NASA SBIR 2004 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 04 B3.06-8032
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Waste and Water Processing for Spacecraft Advanced Life Support
PROPOSAL TITLE: Control of Solid Waste Using Low Temperature Oxidation

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
TDA Research, Inc.
12345 West 52nd Ave
Wheat Ridge, CO 80033-1916

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
David T. Wickham
12345 W. 52nd Ave.
Wheat Ridge, CO 80033-1916

In February 2004 NASA released "The Vision for Space Exploration". The important goals include extending human presence in the solar system culminating in the exploration of Mars and other remote destinations. To accomplish this goal, affordable, new technologies to support long-term missions must be developed. One of the most critical problems facing such space missions is identification of effective methods to control solid waste. With current waste models, 1300 kg of waste occupying a volume 20 m3 will be generated in a 180-day mission to Mars. Unprocessed waste poses a biological hazard to the crew and continual exposure to odors from untreated waste is a serious threat to crew health and morale. The waste processing methods currently under consideration include incineration, microbial oxidation, pyrolysis and compaction. Although each has advantages, no single method has yet been developed that is safe, recovers valuable resources including oxygen and water, and has low energy and space requirements. In this Phase I SBIR project, TDA will conduct tests with a new, low temperature oxidation process that converts waste to carbon dioxide and water. In addition to having low power requirements, the system will be compact and reliable.

The most immediate NASA application for a low temperature oxidation process would be to control solid waste on a long-term space mission. In addition, the process would find use in removing carbon deposits from heat exchangers in high-speed aircraft that utilize fuel for cooling. In some cases, thin layers of carbon are deposited on the heat exchanger walls, which if left to accumulate, can cause the unit to fail. Therefore, identifying a cost effective, simple, and safe procedure to remove coke between missions represents enabling technology for the continued development of reusable high-speed aircraft.

In addition to the use our process would find in controlling waste, there are several commercial applications. The process can be applied to any situation where oxidation at low temperatures is necessary. For example the process can be used to clean hydrocarbons from semiconductors, magnetic disks, medical devices, flight hardware, etc. High temperature processes would damage these components, however at the moderate temperatures required with this process, these components would not be harmed.