NASA SBIR 2004 Solicitation


SUBTOPIC TITLE:In-Situ Resource Processing and Refining
PROPOSAL TITLE:Mars Integrated Propellant Production System

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Pioneer Astronautics
11111 W. 8th Ave., Unit A
Lakewood ,CO 80215 - 5516
(303) 980 - 0890

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Anthony C. Muscatello
11111 W. 8th Ave., Unit A
Lakewood, CO  80215 -5516
(303) 980 - 0759

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
The Integrated Mars In-Situ Propellant Production System (IMISPPS) is an end-to-end system that will produce rocket propellant on Mars from CO2 in the Martian atmosphere. The IMISPPS conducts both the Reverse Water Gas Shift (RWGS) and Sabatier (S/RWGS) reactions in a single reactor to produce a useful high-specific impulse fuel (methane plus carbon monoxide) and water, which is condensed and electrolyzed to produce oxygen and hydrogen. The hydrogen is recycled back to the S/RWGS reactor to react with fresh Martian CO2 to produce more fuel, while the oxygen is stored to provide oxidizer. Some of the carbon monoxide is removed by cryogenic separation to increase propellant specific impulse. The IMISPPS system produces the correct amount of oxygen to burn the methane produced, almost doubling the leverage of a Sabatier/Electrolysis system alone.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The IMISPPS would provide NASA with a technology capable of producing methane/oxygen rocket propellant on Mars with the correct oxidizer to fuel ratio of two moles to one in a single reactor while using the CO2 atmosphere of Mars as the raw material for the production of the vast majority of the propellant. The leverage of the hydrogen imported from Earth would be about 20, greatly reducing the cost and difficulty of Mars Sample Return missions and human missions to Mars by reducing the mass of propellant to be launched to Mars. Operation of a single reactor would reduce the propellant production system weight and complexity compared to other systems based on the Sabatier process and an oxygen production process.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
On Earth, the IMISPPS has applications in the area of carbon dioxide sequestration and processing to reduce the greenhouse effect. For example, cement kilns emit CO2 in high concentrations amenable to separation and processing. In conjunction with a renewable or nuclear power supply that generates hydrogen, the IMISPPS system could be used to combine the hydrogen and CO2 to convert the hydrogen into a readily transportable form (methane) that easily fits into the existing energy infrastructure.

The carbon monoxide produced by the IMISPPS system can also be utilized to make various commodity chemicals. Carbon monoxide is the key to Fischer-Tropschs higher hydrocarbon synthesis to produce valuable hydrocarbon products, such as alcohols, olefins and waxes.

An additional use for the carbon monoxide and methane produced by the IMISPPS system is as a strong reductant gas. The product gas produced in this system could be used in carbothermal reduction process to produce pure metals and pure silicon.

Form Printed on 08-01-05 13:52