NASA SBIR 2007 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 07-2 X5.01-9825
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Oxygen Production from Lunar Regolith
PROPOSAL TITLE: Multi-Cell Thermal Battery

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

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Douwe Bruinsma
11111 W. 8th Ave. unit A
Lakewood, CO 80215 - 5516
(303) 468-6718

Expected Technology Readiness Level (TRL) upon completion of contract: 6

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
The multi-cell thermal battery (MCTB) is a device that can recover a large fraction of the thermal energy from heated regolith and subsequently apply this energy to heat up cool regolith. The individual cells of the MCTB contain a thermal storage media that is specifically designed for optimal performance at a given temperature range. Each of these cells is charged with thermal energy from hot regolith that has been used in a lunar ISRU application. Once the MCTB is charged, the heat is transferred from the battery to newly harvested regolith. In this manner over 85% of the heat can be transferred from the expended to the new regolith. This is a large improvement especially considering that this reduces the heating requirement to produce 1000 kg of O2 from lunar regolith from an average of 1 kW to only 0.15 kW (assuming 3% O2 recovery by weight). The other irreducible power consumption of lunar ISRU O2 production is electrolysis which consumes at least 0.3 kW. Hence, using the MCTB decreases the irreducible power consumption of lunar ISRU by 65 %.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The primary purpose of the MCTB is to meet the needs of NASA's lunar base program by minimizing the power required to produce oxygen on the Moon. The MCTB can be a key component of the lunar exploration program by allowing available power sources to enable production of oxygen on a sufficient scale to significantly reduce Lunar base logistic requirements. Depending upon the rocket propulsion system employed, oxygen can compose between 70% and 85% of total propellant mass. Ascent propellant, in turn, can compose 50% or more of the mass delivered to the lunar surface on a piloted Lunar mission. Therefore, the ability to produce oxygen in quantity on the lunar surface can have a major role in reducing total program costs.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
In addition to its NASA applications, the multi-cell thermal battery can also be a valuable tool wherever heat needs to be stored either for a long time or for a short period of time. Any chemical process that is requires high temperatures and a batch mode would greatly benefit from using the MCTB to conserve energy. In such a process the expended product can be used to fill the thermal battery with heat and this heat can then be used to pre-heat the following batch. As shown before, this can lead an energy savings of over 85%. Thus, large scale applications of MCTB's could make a significant contribution towards reducing industrial power consumption, thereby helping the nation achieve the important goal of energy conservation.

An important benefit of the thermal battery is that it can store heat at high temperatures and release this heat on demand. This may be especially useful in climates where heat is solar heat is abundant and other forms of clean energy are scarce. According to the World Health Organization indoor smoke from cooking and heating causes 1.5 million deaths from respiratory illness each year. Many of these deaths are in regions with abundant sunlight such as Africa and India. The use of a thermal battery can displace some of the heating requirement that is currently met by burning dung, wood and other biomass.

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.

Energy Storage
In-situ Resource Utilization
Renewable Energy
Thermodynamic Conversion

Form Generated on 08-08-08 10:51