This proposal addresses NASA’s 2021 solicitation Focus Area 6: Life Support and Habitation Systems, Topic Number H3.05 Additive Manufacturing for Adsorbent Bed Fabrication. Current and future human space exploration missions require an optimized air revitalization system (ARS) that can reduce the system mass, volume, and power, and increase reliability. The ARS systems contains a Carbon Dioxide Reduction Assembly that is adsorbent-based and its performance is limited because COTS sorbent powder materials are used. NASA is interested in new materials and processes that will develop improved 3D-printing processes and paste formulations to increase the technology readiness level (TRL) of 3D-printing or robocasting processes for producing net-shape, monolithic sorbent beds as drop-in replacements for packed sorbent beds such as those in the CDRA. The HiFunda/PADT team is proposing to design hierarchical (meso, macro, micro porosity) zeolite-based, monolithic adsorbent beds for CO2 removal that will be 3D-printed using an aluminosilicate (geopolymer) to bind commercially-available zeolite particles together (3DZeoGeo zeolite paste material and 3D-printing process). The aluminosilicate binder will be cured in situ via chemical reaction that is accelerated by the laser thermal treatment. The 3D-printed monolithic zeolite adsorbent bed will be a drop-in replacement for the existing powder bed with improved mass transfer, heat transfer, mechanical robustness properties. In Phase I, the HiFunda/PADT team will develop and demonstrate robustness and performance of its 3DZeoGeo zeolite paste material and 3D-printing process in a proof-of-concept monolithic adsorbent test vehicle (POC-ATV) that will be tested and characterized for CO2 removal performance, pressure drop, and mechanical strength. The proposed technology will be further refined and demonstrated on an ATV design of interest to NASA and/or aerospace contractors in Phase II.
The proposed 3DZeoGeo zeolite paste material and process will be used by NASA and its contractors to provide a practical, fast and flexible route to generate net-shape, monolithic sorbent beds as drop-in replacements for packed sorbent beds such as those in the CDRA. Successful demonstration of the new 3DZeoGeo zeolite paste and process for CDRA will provide many significant benefits to NASA and to the commercial space industry by providing significant reductions in the CDRA system mass, volume, and power, and improved reliability.
The proposed 3DZeoGeo technology will find commercial adoption for a number of non-NASA markets to develop custom adsorbent beds for use in automotive aftertreatment (market size of $128.2B in 2025), environmental remediation ($123.2B in 2022), CO2 capture ($8.1B in 2021), wastewater treatment ($65.1B in 2024), and air purification ($13.6B in 2025), as well as other unique applications.