NASA SBIR 2011 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 11-1 X1.01-9062
SUBTOPIC TITLE: In-Situ Resource Characterization, Extraction, Transfer, and Processing
PROPOSAL TITLE: High Efficiency Microchannel Sabatier Reactor System for In Situ Resource Utilization

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
UMPQUA Research Company
P.O. Box 609
Myrtle Creek, OR 97457 - 0102
(541) 863-7770

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
James R Akse, Ph.D.
PO Box 609
Myrtle Creek, OR 97457 - 0102
(541) 863-2653

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 2
End: 4

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
An innovative Microchannel Sabatier Reactor System (MSRS) is proposed for 100% recovery of oxygen (as water) and methane from carbon dioxide (CO2), a valuable in situ resource available in the atmosphere or as frozen deposits on Mars and other Near Earth Objects (NEOs), using hydrogen. The Sabatier reaction will greatly benefit from inherently superior microreactor heat and mass transfer characteristics compared to conventional reactor designs. Significantly, multiple microreactors can readily be configured in series or parallel arrangements that improve reaction outcomes, and process scale up is easily achieved by numbering up mass produced microreactors. High conversion rates will require the deposition of highly active, supported catalyst layers onto microchannel walls that enhance surface area, adsorption characteristics, and catalyst effectiveness factor. Another research focus area will be a MSRS design that optimizes residence time, thermal recovery, and the achievement of equilibrium at low temperature. Successful completion of the Phase I project will provide microreactor performance data required to design and assemble a first generation MSRS. The Phase II research will result in the development of a prototype MSRS incorporating integrated sequential microreactors and heat exchange with the capability of processing 1 kg hr-1 of CO2. The prototype MSRS will clearly demonstrate the efficacy of this in situ resource utilization approach.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The NASA application for this technology will be as Flight Hardware for deployment in support of future, long duration exploration missions to Mars or other Near Earth Objects (NEOs) where reclamation of in situ resources and reduction of the logistics burden will be highly valued. The Microchannel Sabatier Reactor System (MSRS) will efficiently reclaim oxygen (as water) and produce a propellant (methane) from atmospheric or frozen deposits of carbon dioxide on Mars or other NEOs using only hydrogen. The MSRS provides a fundamental starting point for planetary habitats where precursor robotic missions can prepare the road for subsequent human exploration by reducing the logistics burden.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The primary non-governmental application of this technology is the recycling of sequestered carbon dioxide to form a fuel gas. Efforts to reduce CO2 emissions are becoming more commonplace as many nations begin implementation of CO2 emissions limits. The costs associated with exceeding the proposed regulatory limits will begin to offset the costs related to CO2 removal and recycling. Microchannel Sabatier Reactor System (MSRS) technology is particularly suited to on-site processing of CO2 captured from industrial effluent gas streams due to its inherent scalability. A MSRS would enable cost-effective deployment over a broad process scale. Utilization of H2 generated by renewable resources, e.g. solar or wind powered electrolysis of H2O, further enhances the environmental benefits of Sabatier technology. Half of the H2 required for the reduction reaction can be recovered directly from the H2O product, just as it would be in a space application. An additional benefit to this ecologically friendly application can be obtained by thermal recovery from flue gases to heat the MSRS.

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.)
Essential Life Resources (Oxygen, Water, Nutrients)
Resource Extraction

Form Generated on 11-22-11 13:43