NASA SBIR 2008 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 08-1 X3.03-9828
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Lunar ISRU Development and Precursor Activities
PROPOSAL TITLE: Lunar Soil Particle Separator

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)
Mark Berggren
11111 W. 8th Ave, Unit A
Lakewood, CO 80215 - 5516
(303) 980-0231

Expected Technology Readiness Level (TRL) upon completion of contract: 4 to 5

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
The Lunar Soil Particle Separator (LSPS) is an innovative method to beneficiate soil prior to in-situ resource utilization (ISRU). The LSPS improves ISRU oxygen yield by boosting the concentration of ilmenite or other iron-oxide bearing materials found in lunar soils. LSPS particle size separations can be performed to improve gas-solid interactions and reactor flow dynamics. LSPS mineral separations can be used to alter the sintering characteristics of lunar soil. The LSPS can eventually be used to separate and concentrate lunar minerals useful for manufacture of structural materials, glass, and chemicals.
The LSPS integrates an initial centrifugal particle size separation with magnetic, gravity, and/or electrostatic separations. The LSPS centrifugal separation method overcomes the reduced efficiency of conventional particle sieving in reduced gravity. Feed conditioning, such as charge neutralization, can be incorporated into the LSPS to release and disperse surface fines prior to particle separations. The conceptual LSPS hardware design integrates many individual unit operations to reduce system mass and power requirements. The LSPS is applicable to ISRU feed processing as well as robotic prospecting to characterize soils over a wide region on the Moon. The LSPS is scalable and is amenable to testing and development under simulated lunar environmental conditions.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The primary initial application of the LSPS is for lunar particle separations in support of improving the feed to hydrogen reduction ISRU. The LSPS has direct use to improve the overall efficiency of hydrogen reduction ISRU by boosting the iron-oxide content of feeds. In addition, the LSPS has uses for optimizing particle size distribution to improve material flow properties and gas-particle interactions in fluidized bed and other reactors as well as adjusting mineral composition to minimize sintering during reduction. The LSPS can also serve as a component of a robotic lunar prospector to characterize soils and their potential for ISRU applications.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
One non-NASA commercialization application is directed toward small-scale terrestrial mineral processing. In particular, the LSPS is useful in remote locations where a compact, low-power device is needed to perform dry separations for production of mineral concentrates. A device such as the LSPS can be tailored to dry separation prospecting or small-scale minerals production to reduce the transportation of large amounts of un-beneficiated samples or ore to laboratories or downstream processing facilities. Applications may include prospecting or small-scale production of gold ores and heavy mineral sands.

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