NASA SBIR 2009 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 09-2 X3.01-8530
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Oxygen Production from Lunar Regolith
PROPOSAL TITLE: Contaminant Robust System for Oxygen Production from Lunar and Martian Resources

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Paragon Space Development Corporation
3481 E. Michigan Street
Tucson, AZ 85714 - 2221
(520) 382-4813

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
John Straus
3481 E Michigan Street
Tucson, AZ 85714 - 2221
(520) 382-4809

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 3
End: 4

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Extended duration missions to the Moon and Mars will require the use of In-situ resources to generate propellants and life support consumables. Many of the processes for in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) produce water, along with a variety of acid gases and other water soluble contaminants. Paragon proposes to develop membrane technology to separate water vapor from contaminants in the ISRU systems. The water vapor can then be processed using Paragon's demonstrated Solid Oxide Electrolysis (SOE) technology to produce pure gaseous oxygen for life support and/or propulsion. The membrane and SOE subsystem has no moving parts, require no regeneration or resupply of subcomponents over component life time, rely on only single phase physics, and work independent of gravity.

In Phase 1, Paragon demonstrated the potential of the membrane technology for use in the treatment of contaminated gas streams. Preliminary results indicate that the membrane is capable of generating a purified water vapor stream by extracting it from a second stream contaminated with hydrogen chloride gas as produced in lunar ISRU systems.

In Phase 2, Paragon will perform the following: (1) Confirm lunar & Martian contaminants; (2) Predict performance and derive operating conditions / interface requirements of membrane and SOE units in ISRU systems via system analyses; (3) Experimentally verify impermeability of membrane to contaminants; (4) Demonstrate membrane performance does not hinder SOE performance through integrated testing; (5) Develop / test full scale membrane unit that meets ISRU requirements; and (6) Deliver additional membrane unit to NASA.

At the end of the Phase 2 effort, Paragon aims to show that the membrane is impermeable to ISRU contaminants and integrates well with SOE. The technology will be advanced to a TRL of near 4 by designing / building a full scale unit that demonstrates water extraction at requirements specific to ISRU oxygen production systems.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The proposed technology development can be applied to ISRU oxygen production systems on both the Moon and Mars. The membrane will remove acid contaminants from a moist stream received directly from a lunar regolith hydrogen reduction reactor or Martian water ice. This contaminant-free water stream can then be delivered directly to a high temperature solid oxide electrolysis (SOE) unit to produce pure, dry oxygen for life support consumables or surface exploration / Earth return propellant.
The membrane technology can also be applied to processes where water needs to be separated from methane. Specific NASA examples include down stream of Sabatier reactors used in air revitalization systems, and lunar regolith methane reduction systems. In all, the water is separated and sent to an electrolyzer to recycle hydrogen and produce oxygen as a consumable. Finally, the membrane technology can be applied in bio-waste processing to separate water vapor from a contaminated stream as a step in the overall clean up process.

SOE is currently being developed as a technology for air revitalization systems, enabling 100% oxygen regeneration from human metabolic byproducts alone. As SOE can electrolyze CO2 as well as H2O, SOE can also potentially be used in other lunar regolith reduction systems that use carbon monoxide or methane as the reducing agent.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The non-NASA applications and spin off of this technology development are significant. This technology is part of Paragon's recent efforts to develop a space flight air revitalization system for commercial spacecraft. That work is partially funded through a Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) Space Act Agreement with NASA. It provides a no-moving-part water removal system that can address the spacecraft water accumulation problem without using complex condensing heat exchangers or mass- and crew- intensive desiccant.

More directly related, terrestrial based applications of Solid Oxide Electrolysis (and its other function as a solid oxide fuel cell) also are threatened by contaminants such as sulfuric acid. The membrane and SOE units developed under this contact may be used in carbon sequestration and oxygen reclamation systems installed in petroleum refining plants.

TECHNOLOGY TAXONOMY MAPPING (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.)
Air Revitalization and Conditioning
In-situ Resource Utilization

Form Generated on 08-06-10 17:29