NASA SBIR 2004 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 04 X1.01-8632
SUBTOPIC TITLE: In-Situ Manufacturing
PROPOSAL TITLE: In Situ Manufacturing of Plastics and Composites to Support H&R Exploration

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Makel Engineering,Inc.
1585 Marauder Street
Chico, CA 95973-9064

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Darby B Makel
1585 Marauder St
Chico, CA 95973-9064

Our proposed Phase I program will develop a reactor system for the synthesis of polyethylene from carbon dioxide and water. The proposed work will result in hardware capable of the in-situ fabrication of high-density polyethylene suitable for the construction of inflatable enclosures and panels, which can be used to construct extraterrestrial habitats. In-situ production of habitat structural materials would result in substantial cost savings compared with transporting the material from Earth. The system will serve as an engineering prototype for for future missions to demonstrate in-situ production of consumables. We expect that the technology to produce ethylene and polyethylene will be sufficiently mature to be considered for demonstration in the 2005 or 2007 programs.
Our proposed program addresses two fundamental technology issues:
(1) In Situ Synthesis of Hydrocarbon Fuels and Oxygen
(2) In Situ Synthesis of Materials for Isolated Habitat Construction and Support.
It addresses several key crosscut issues based on the use of In Situ Resources, e.g.,
- Life Support for Spacecraft Including Space Station Freedom
- Life Support for Lunar and Martian Bases and Colonies
- Propellants for Propulsion for Planetary Rovers and Return Vehicles.

Development of closed ecological life support system that utilize the waste products which are formed in manned spacecraft and surface bases are key to the successful planning and execution of prolonged space missions. Makel Engineering's program will synthesize ethylene, and, subsequently polyethylene that can be used in the construction of habitats, tools, and replacement parts. The in situ production of polyethylene and perhaps nutrients provide enormous cost savings ($5B to $10B) for early Mars missions. We expect the reactor system would be part of a Phase II Astrobiology research as a testbed for evaluation of habitat support technology and therefore will serve as a basis for an ISRU system that can be used for Mars Exploration and settlement. The technology is directly applicable to advanced regenerative life support systems by providing major savings in resupply. The NASA/government market is estimated to be $10M to $50M over the next ten years.

Conversion of carbon oxides, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, to hydrocarbons, alcohols, and other value added compounds, using innovative catalytic reduction processes, will have important enabling commercial benefits. Significant near term commercial applications for small scale, integrated, autonomous reactors will enable at least four markets for in situ chemical processes, which otherwise would not be cost effective.
Hydrocarbon Reformer for Fuel Cells, Natural Gas Upgrading, Green House Gases Processing, Microchannel Reactor Applications
These markets include the following customers:
Off-grid Data Systems, High-Income/Consumption Households Seeking Secure Backup Power, Premium Power Customers, UPS Systems, Fuel Cell Vehicles