In this SBIR project, pH Matter, LLC is developing an automated carbon formation reactor (CFR) for the continuous formation of carbon from crew CO2. The team’s approach will allow the CFR to operate continuously in an automated manner without the need for human intervention or the need for large and heavy replacement catalyst inserts. The system to be demonstrated will include an automated catalyst delivery and carbon removal system. A four crew member prototype will be built and delivered to NASA Marshall Space Flight Center.
NASA has a need for improved process technologies for life support loop closure to enable extended manned exploration missions beyond earth’s atmosphere. The automated carbon formation reactor is necessary to efficiently recover oxygen for manned missions to deep space, Mars, lunar missions, and for reducing supply requirements to the International Space Station (ISS). A critical component in life support loop closure is the removal of metabolic carbon dioxide (produced by the crew) from the cabin atmosphere.
The CFR reactor demonstrated on this project could be used by other aerospace companies interested in manned space exploration including, Lockheed Martin, Blue Origin, and SpaceX. The reactor technology developed on this program could be used to continuously grow carbon materials which could be used in a wide range of applications including electro-active carbons for fuel cells and batteries.