Carbon dioxide and moisture removal is critical for maintaining the sustained and efficient operation in extravehicular exploration. Stable and high performance, low pressure drop CO2 and moisture removal sorbents are therefore a critical part of the space suit life support system and there is a need for alternative high performance adsorbent systems. Mainstream proposes to integrate highly tailorable metal organic frame work molecules (MOFs) which provide a highly selective, high-capacity carbon dioxide and water vapor absorbent levels into the vacuum swing CO2 absorbent system. Since MOFs are however impractical to integrate directly in a low pressure drop system, Mainstream will fabricate the MOFs into a high stability, high porosity polymeric beads with readily controllable sizes. Our process forming the beads allows full access to their extraordinarily high surface area and gas storage capacity, while allowing the integration into a low pressure drop packed bed adsorbent cartridge. Thus, they can be readily integrated into the adsorbent bed as a drop-in replacement for the current adsorbents.
The proposed sorbent could be used not only as a drop-in carbon dioxide absorbent bed for the xEMU space suit but is relevant to all manned NASA spacecraft. Additionally, as a large variety of MOFs exist with various applications the technologies can be applied to almost all the reactors that make up the ISS’s Air Revitalization System. The ability to integrate the MOFs in bead form will also mean that these systems will run more efficiently with reduced pressure drop.
Beyond NASA, applications exist for almost all catalytic or adsorbent processes which would receive many of the same benefits as NASA, including enhanced adsorption and reduced pressure. Applications are seen in the fields of exhaust emissions control, air pollution control and pharmaceutical production. The technology could also be applied in both point source and direct air capture of CO2.