Numerous space exploration missions to planetary bodies have noted significant deleterious effects due to fine particulates which can foul mechanisms, alter thermal properties, and obscure optical systems. NASA is seeking advances in the removal, management, and monitoring of airborne particulates and external dust to address the intrusion into and containment of lunar dust within the pressurized habitable volumes and compartments in crewed spacecraft systems. Under this SBIR project, Analytical Scientific Products is proposing the development of an efficient, compact, low-power, autonomous, low-maintenance, regenerable dust filtration and collection device for cabin air and airlock compartments during lunar missions. This filter takes in the dust laden gas from the target region, removes and collects the particles, and releases the clean gas back into the compartment. This device is unique because it is equally effective in filtering all dust particles irrespective of their origin (i.e., both lunar dust and cabin dust), it has no moving parts, and it imposes an extremely small pressure drop for fluid flow. The technology development will occur in three phases. In Phase I, we propose to perform numerical modeling to design the key components of the device, construct a breadboard device, and perform tests to demonstrate the effectiveness of this device in filtering and collecting dust particles. In Phase II, we will mature the technology through more detailed analysis and fabrication and testing of an alpha-prototype to fully characterize the performance before the construction of a beta-prototype that will be delivered to NASA. We will field test and commercialize the device in Phase III.
The primary intended application of the proposed technology is in the space industry where the deleterious effects of particulates are well known and can compromise the safety and functionality of various systems. It can be used to remove the dust particles and clean the air in spacecraft cabins and airlock compartments during the future missions to various planetary bodies including the moon and Mars.
The proposed dust filtration and collection device can be used in any system that requires both separation and collection of particles from the carrier gas, is sensitive to pressure drops, and there is potential for exposure to hazardous particles/gases. Examples include nanoparticle manufacturing units and smokestacks.