NASA SBIR 2004 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 04 B3.01-8857
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Environmental Control of Spacecraft Cabin Atmosphere
PROPOSAL TITLE: Novel Long-Term CO2 Removal System

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Compact Membrane Systems Inc
325 Water Street
Wilmington, DE 19804-2410

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Kenneth J Pennisi
325 Water Street
Wilmington, DE 19804-2410

Current Technology for CO2 removal from enclosed air of spacecraft utilizes LiOH canisters for CO2 absorption. This absorption is irreversible so longer flights require more LiOH. For long duration flights it is essential that a small, lightweight system that recovers the CO2 be developed. This allows the CO2 to be used to regenerate O2 for re-use.

Compact Membrane systems (CMS) has identified a novel membrane contactor process for absorption and subsequent desorption of the CO2. Key to the process is that the contactor both operate effectively and that loss of the absorption/desorption fluid be kept to a minimum.

In Phase I, CMS will build system and demonstrate systems capability with a focus on key desorption unit operation. Analysis will demonstrate ability to transport CO2 while maintaining minimal loss of absorbent. System stability will be demonstrated by evaluating performance over wide temperature range (30-90o C). Chemical stability with absorbants will also be demonstrated. With all the above basic data in hand, we will evaluate the needed system size, weight and power consumption. Lastly we will compare results to molecular sieve adsorbants which are the incumbent for long duration flights.

As humans increase their presence in space, the problem of CO2 removal will become more difficult. The long duration missions of the future will be technologically more demanding than the relatively short duration missions of the past and the current missions in earth orbit. There will be a greater need to reduce mission mass, reduce power usage and recover oxygen. The technology offered in this proposal addresses these critical issues.

This is a cornerstone technology with numerous potential commercial opportunities. This includes (a) capturing CO2 for CO2 sequestering, (b) acid gas removal from natural gas, and (c) CO2 removal from submarines. There is a major CO2 sequestering initiative associated with global warming and low cost way to recover CO2 is essential. A parallel major initiative is developing greater supplies of natural gas. Removal of CO2 and other acid gasses will significantly enhance this objective. Submarines have similar CO2 removal needs and would therefore benefit from this technology.