NASA SBIR 2009 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 09-2 X3.01-9113
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Oxygen Production from Lunar Regolith
PROPOSAL TITLE: Novel Instrumentation for Lunar Regolith Oxygen Production Facilities

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Los Gatos Research
67 East Evelyn Avenue, Suite 3
Mountain View, CA 94041 - 1518
(650) 965-7772

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Douglas Baer
67 East Evelyn Avenue, Suite 3
Mountain View, CA 94041 - 1518
(650) 650-7772

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 4
End: 6

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
In this SBIR effort, Los Gatos Research (LGR) proposes to develop, test and deploy three novel compact, rugged and easy-to-use multi-gas analysis instruments, based on tunable diode laser absorption spectrometry and a patented cavity-enhanced laser absorption-based strategy called Off-Axis Integrated Cavity Output Spectroscopy (Off-Axis ICOS), for monitoring and control of extraplanetary regolith processing and oxygen production. The instruments will also prove useful for in situ surface analysis. The first instrument (Instrument #1), based on fast extractive sampling, will record measurements of several important gas-phase constituents in regolith processing facilities with extraordinarily high sensitivity, accuracy and specificity in real time. This instrument will integrate directly into NASA's hydrogen and carbothermal reduction test facilities at Mauna Kea, Hawaii. The measurement quantities of interest include the concentrations of HF, HCl, H2S, O2, H2, CH4, CO, CO2, H2O, and H2O isotopes (H2HO or HDO and H218O). The second instrument (Instrument #2) will provide measurements of H2O concentrations and gas temperature directly in the high temperature reactive flow and prior to hydrolysis. The third instrument (Instrument #3) will provide accurate quantification of the aforementioned gases in a compact, low-power form factor suitable for integration into the Regolith and Environment Science and Oxygen and Lunar Volatile Extraction (RESOLVE) project. This analyzer will be used to study both thermal desorption and hydrogen reduction of extraplanetary regolith.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Future NASA extraplanetary exploration missions will require in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) technologies to manufacture fuels, life support gases, and minerals. One of key NASA technologies involves the processing of extraplanetary regolith to produce H2O and O2. This oxygen can then be used as a propellant or for habitation. NASA requires several diagnostics to assess the validity and viability of ISRU technologies. Foremost, the final oxygen product must be analyzed to determine the trace contaminant levels. This analysis will provide information regarding the regolith composition, sorbent efficacy, and sorbent aging. Additionally, in-situ measurements of gas composition and temperature in the hot reactor or downstream of the sorbent bed are required to monitor the efficiency and dynamics of reduction process. Finally, NASA is targeting robotic lunar mission that include the Regolith and Environment Science and Oxygen and Lunar Volatile Extraction (RESOLVE) project. This project necessitates the deployment of a lightweight, low-power gas analyzer. The proposed miniature Phase II prototype can complement existing technology to provide additional and verifying data.

In addition to NASA's regolith processing monitoring needs, several other NASA programs can benefit from the technologies developed in this SBIR program, including the Hypersonic Airbreathing Propulsion Branch, the NASA Astrobiology Program, and the NASA Astronaut Health Monitoring Program.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Besides its application to NASA, laser-based gas analyzers also have significant commercial application. Through several strategic partnerships, LGR is developing a suite of analytical instrumentation to measure trace gases for industrial process control, energy exploration, and military applications. The proposed work is essential in making these instruments more compact, rugged, and cost competitive, and will thus enlarge the potential market size significantly.

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.)
In-situ Resource Utilization

Form Generated on 08-06-10 17:29