The Bifunctional Regenerative Electrochemical Air Transformation for Human Environments (BREATHE) for life support and habitation is part of the atmosphere revitalization equipment necessary to provide and maintain a livable environment within the pressurized cabin of crewed spacecraft. BREATHE is a low-power electrodialysis-based concept for regenerating a liquid carbon dioxide scrubbing material while simultaneously separating and compressing CO2. During the Phase I program, Skyre successfully demonstrated the BREATHE concept in a 3-chamber cell configuration that is based on our solid-state, high-pressure electrochemical cell architecture that is routinely operated as high as 4500 psi and demonstrated to 12,500 psi. Initial performance data collected from this effort allowed preliminary system-level trades to be made against a mechanical compressor and a temperature swing adsorption compressor with favorable results. The primary objectives for the Phase II activity are to improve the overall electrical efficiency of the regeneration/compression step of the BREATHE concept by targeted design improvements to the cell electrodes and flow fields, and to study further integration with a liquid-based CO2 scrubbing system designed for microgravity operation. Improvements in cell performance will result in reduced power, system volume and weight in a system that is already quiet and inherently reliable with no moving parts – critical features for any long-duration manned space mission.
The BREATHE subsystem provides a critical life-support function on-board long-duration manned space missions. In this application the BREATHE subsystem would sources CO2 from crew exhalation via a liquid carbon dioxide scrubber solution, and compresses it for supply to an electrochemical reduction subsystem where it can be converted to logistic fuels with oxygen as a byproduct for human life support. BREATHE serves a critical function for closed-environment life support wherein carbon dioxide management can be a limiting factor.
The high-pressure architecture technology development effort supports Skyre’s products which includes the H2RENEW, electrochemical hydrogen separation and compression, and CO2RENEW, electrochemical CO2 conversion to fuels and chemicals. BREATHE can be extended to other vehicles requiring closed-loop life support: nuclear-powered submarines and other long-duration, manned underwater vehicles.