Precision Combustion, Inc. (PCI) proposes a combined next generation regenerable desiccant and an effective water recovery system (based on a restively heated desiccant support) for water management in Reversible Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) Cells.
For increased space exploration payloads, PEM cell designs that efficiently operate at high pressure with pure oxygen and hydrogen are being developed. Crucial to the efficient operation of these next generation cells is water management of the supply gasses (hydrogen and oxygen) under operating conditions. The desiccants must supply fuel and oxidizer with a dew point of up to - 40oC at pressures over 35 psi and temperatures between 4 and 85oC. Under these conditions traditional desiccants and membranes will not be able to achieve the dew point.
We propose to synthesize and test several nanomaterials that have very high capacity (up to 60-70%) for retaining moisture and coat them on our proprietary support for enhanced sorption and desorption properties. The materials are non-toxic and compatible with PEM gases.
The support can be rapidly and restively heated for desiccant regeneration with minimized power consumption. The system will be adapted to the topic requirements and tested with humid oxygen and hydrogen in Phase 1 of the project. A microgravity condenser will separate water post desiccant regeneration. The condenser will be sized for over 99 % water recovery based on Phase 1 data. Successful implementation of PCI’s strategy will increase flexibility of equipment including for extended use while reducing total equipment volume and material inventory required for efficient PEM cell operation.
PCI brings extensive experience in the development of sorbents and coatings on high-surface-area mesh supports, including development of multiple high fidelity regenerable air cleanup prototypes for NASA, DoD, and other private space companies.
The main NASA application is water management of supply gasses (H2 and O2) for reversible PEM fuel cells. Novel reversible fuel cell architectures are needed for long term missions and planetary exploration for energy management. The reversible cell technology generates O2 and H2 through electrolysis. These gasses are humid and need to be dried to very low dew points prior to storage.
Other potential NASA applications include any life-support system related water recovery process such as recovery from cabin air or sanitation systems.
Potential non-NASA applications include dehumidification for closed environments such as stored vehicles or storage units and also for water recovery from air in desert environments where water scarcity brings the need for recovery of humidity from air.