NASA SBIR 2008 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 08-1 X3.02-9483
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Oxygen Production from Lunar Regolith
PROPOSAL TITLE: Microchannel Methanation Reactors Using Nanofabricated Catalysts

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Makel Engineering, Inc.
1585 Marauder Street
Chico, CA 95973 - 9064
(530) 895-2770

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Susana Carranza
1585 Marauder Street
Chico, CA 95973 - 9064
(512) 589-0718

Expected Technology Readiness Level (TRL) upon completion of contract: 4

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Makel Engineering, Inc. (MEI) and the Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) propose to develop and demonstrate a microchannel methanation reactor based on nanofabricated catalysts. Sustainable/affordable exploration of space exploration will require minimization of re-supply from Earth by implementation of In-Situ Resources Utilization (ISRU) strategies. For exploration of the Moon, one of the most significant resources is the lunar regolith, which is a complex mix of minerals with large oxygen content in their composition. Oxygen finds its main uses as a propellant, and for life support systems. There are currently many technologies being developed addressing the production of oxygen from lunar regolith, including carbothermal processes. The key to sustainability is to make sure any consumables carried from Earth are recycled to the maximum extent possible, minimizing the need of re-supply. In the case of carbothermal based oxygen production, carbon oxides must be converted to methane for reintroduction in the carbothermal system. This proposed program specifically addresses topic X3.02 Oxygen Production from Lunar Regolith, by developing a methanation system that will efficiently convert mixed carbon oxides and hydrogen to methane and water.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The development of highly efficient microchannel reactors will be applicable to multiple ISRU programs. Propellants can be produced from carbon dioxide (Mars atmosphere). Ethylene can be produced from methane. Methane reformation can produce hydrogen on board rovers to feed fuel cell power systems.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Small scale, integrated, autonomous reactors can be used to enable in situ chemical processes which are not cost effective otherwise. Markets include:
• Hydrocarbon reformers (fuel cells)
• Natural gas upgrading (light hydrocarbons, GTL, etc.)

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 Generated on 11-24-08 11:56