NASA SBIR 2004 Solicitation


SUBTOPIC TITLE: In-Situ Resource Processing and Refining
PROPOSAL TITLE: Carbon Monoxide Silicate Reduction System

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Pioneer Astronautics
11111 W. 8th Ave., Unit A
Lakewood ,CO 80215 - 5516
(303) 980 - 0890

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Mark   Berggren
11111 W. 8th Ave., Unit A
Lakewood, CO  80215 -5516
(303) 980 - 0231

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
The Carbon Monoxide Silicate Reduction System (COSRS) is a novel technology for producing large quantities of oxygen on the Moon. Oxygen yields of 15 kilograms per 100 kilograms of feed soil were demonstrated during Phase I using both lunar and Mars soil simulants. This is about five times the oxygen yield achievable by hydrogen reduction. Up to 30 kilograms of oxygen per 100 kilograms of feed soil are recoverable by adjustment of the carbon-silicon ratio.

Soils are sequentially subjected to iron oxide reduction by carbon monoxide, in-situ deposition of carbon throughout the soil by carbon monoxide disproportionation, and finally high-temperature carbothermal reduction of silicates by the deposited carbon.

COSRS operates in a closed system. An inventory of carbon is maintained in the form of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and solid carbon. Most of the oxygen recovered from soil is in the form of carbon monoxide, which is converted to carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is then reacted with hydrogen in a reverse water gas shift reactor. The RWGS system regenerates carbon monoxide for use in the COSRS process and produces water, which is electrolyzed. Hydrogen from electrolysis is recycled within the RWGS system. Oxygen from electrolysis is the COSRS product.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
COSRS is a potentially enabling technology for human Lunar exploration because it can produce the majority of the oxygen available in undifferentiated Lunar soil, or roughly five to ten times the yield of hydrogen reduction technologies. This increased productivity eliminates the need to beneficiate the soil, thereby enabling automated lunar oxygen facilities that could produce return propellant prior to the arrival of the crew. This will greatly decrease the launch costs required to support a lunar base, and also enable long range exploration using ballistic hoppers employing Lunar oxygen. The COSRS will also work on asteroids, Mars, and Jupiter's moons.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The integrated COSRS/RWGS/Electrolysis system has an application in production of pure silicon metal for terrestrial manufacturing of photovoltaics and electronics components. The integrated COSRS/RWGS/Electrolysis system also has future applications to the production of large quantities of oxygen, iron metal, and silicon metal from random lunar and Martian regolith for lunar and Martian bases, and could be used in the same way to allow useful metal production from very low grade ores on Earth. Furthermore, the closed COSRS/RWGS system would enable the terrestrial production of iron and other metals without generating carbon dioxide greenhouse gas.

Form Printed on 08-01-05 13:52