NASA SBIR 2021-II Solicitation

Proposal Summary

Proposal Information

Proposal Number:
21-2- Z12.01-1706
Phase 1 Contract #:
Subtopic Title:
Extraction of Oxygen and Water from Lunar Regolith
Proposal Title:
Phase II Lunar ISRU Contaminant Tolerant Scroll Vacuum Pump (CTSVP)

Small Business Concern

Air Squared, Inc.
510 Burbank Street, Broomfield, CO 80020
(513) 238-9778                                                                                                                                                                                

Principal Investigator:

John Wilson
510 Burbank Street, CO 80020 - 1604
(303) 466-2669                                                                                                                                                                                

Business Official:

Bryce Shaffer
510 Burbank Street, CO 80020 - 1604
(513) 238-9778                                                                                                                                                                                

Summary Details:

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) :                                                                                                                                                          
Begin: 3
End: 5
Technical Abstract (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words):

NASA seeks to develop novel oxygen extraction concepts that allow for the production of oxygen on the surface of the Moon using Lunar regolith. As part of this system, in situ resource utilization (ISRU) process requires a pressurized volume to be evacuated to prevent the loss of products to the vacuum of space. While processing the regolith, some of the released gasses have acidic elements that must be handled for oxygen production. For this reason, NASA has expressed the need for a contamination-tolerant vacuum pump which can recover vapors from the pressurized volume before discarding the spent regolith. The pump has two firm requirements: 

  1. Evacuate a 50 L volume from an initial pressure of 5 PSIA down to 5 torr in less than two minutes when discharging against a pressure of 1 atm (14 PSIA)
  2. Capable of pumping corrosive trace substances such as HCl, HF, and H2S without adversely affecting performance (pump down time or power consumption) or life (number of cycles)

One promising ISRU oxygen extraction method is Gustafoson’s carbothermal system. This system is designed to collect oxygen from the Lunar regolith utilizing the carbothermal reduction process. The process may be summarized as a reduction of collected minerals containing metallic oxides (regolith) with carbonaceous source to form CO and H2, followed by a reduction of CO with H2 to form CH4 and water, and finally electrolysis of the water to form O2 and H2. While unnecessary on the pilot tested on Earth, a deployable system requires a contaminant tolerant vacuum pump to evacuate a process vessel to prevent the loss of any products or consumables to the vacuum of space. To accomplish this request, Air Squared is proposing the development of a robust, oil-free, Contamination-Tolerant Scroll Vacuum Pump (CTSVP).

Potential NASA Applications (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words):

By drawing a vacuum to preserve ISRU consumables in a pressurized volume and maintaining optimal performance while handling contaminant laden regolith or atmospheric vapors without contaminating downstream processes, the CTSVP fills two ISRU technological gaps. Therefore, Air Squared has identified two promising marketplaces for the CTSVP to be pursued in Phase II:

  • Future Lunar SOXE ISRU processing missions
  • Future Mars carbothermal ISRU processing missions
Potential Non-NASA Applications (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words):
  • Direct sales to SOXE ISRU processing developers and manufacturers
  • Direct sales to carbothermal ISRU processing developers and manufacturers
Duration:     24

Form Generated on 02/18/2022 18:02:22