NASA SBIR 2005 Solicitation


SUBTOPIC TITLE:In-Situ Resource Utilization & Space Manufacturing
PROPOSAL TITLE:In Situ Oxygen Production from Lunar and Martian Regolith

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Lynntech, Inc.
7607 Eastmark Drive, Suite 102
College Station ,TX 77840 - 4027
(979) 693 - 0017

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Brian    Hennings
7607 Eastmark Drive, Suite 102
College Station, TX  77840 -4027
(979) 693 - 0017

In situ oxygen production is of immense importance to NASA in the support of the NASA initiative to sustain man's permanent presence in space. The oxygen produced can be used as breathable oxygen, as a source of fuel for Moon or Mars based vehicles (for either return to Earth or as a basis for further space exploration), or as a source of oxygen for fuel cell or other power generating devices. Lynntech proposes to use plasma technology to liberate the oxygen bound in the oxides of regolith to produce oxygen in situ on either the moon or Mars. Lynntech's innovative solid feedstock plasma reformer is simple, robust and unaffected by variations in the composition or particle size of the regolith. Lynntech has previously demonstrated the principle of plasma reformation on a variety of projects and has preliminary results demonstrating the technology proposed here. Lynntech is currently developing plasma reformers for the US Air Force capable of producing several SCFM of hydrogen from JP-8 as well as multi-fuel (gas/liquid) capable reformers. A small (< 10W) plasma reformer has also been demonstrated for the production of hydrogen on Titan for NASA.

With little or no modification, Lynntech's plasma-based oxygen generation system could be used to produce oxygen from the Martian atmosphere. The atmosphere on Mars consists largely of CO2 (~95%) and is saturated with dust. Preliminary experiments with a Lynntech reformer indicate that CO2 can be reformed to solid carbon and gaseous O2. The dust in the atmosphere does not harm our system; rather it contributes to the oxygen content of the product stream, as it is broken down into constituents, similar to the CO2.

Another NASA application for a space-bound plasma system is in the production of hydrogen from hydrocarbon rich atmospheres (such as the methane saturated Saturn moon, Titan), either for buoyancy, power or propulsion. Lynntech has already successfully demonstrated a 10-Watt methane reformer that produces hydrogen from 100K to 300K and weighs less than 500g for the production of make-up hydrogen for a balloon operating on Titan.

The plasma-based system can also be used in several ground-based, non-NASA commercial applications as well. One of these is solid waste processing. With only small modifications, the plasma system proposed could be used to reform solid waste into high value components (i.e. hydrogen and carbon for most hydrocarbon chains, such as plastics and organics). The high value constituents are contingent upon the feedstock, and thus are as diverse.

Alternatively, the plasma system could be used to process liquid or gaseous waste streams also. One particularly attractive area is the reformation of used and dirty hydrocarbon wastes from automobiles. These wastes include motor oil, greases, transmission and brake fluids, which can be reformed into products such as hydrogen and nano-structured carbon materials. The process is immune to changes in the feedstock, and mixtures of hydrocarbons can be fed directly to produce a 90+% hydrogen stream prior to clean-up.

NASA's technology taxonomy has been developed by the SBIR-STTR program to disseminate awareness of proposed and awarded R/R&D in the agency. It is a listing of over 100 technologies, sorted into broad categories, of interest to NASA.

In-situ Resource Utilization

Form Printed on 09-19-05 13:12