NASA SBIR 2006 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 06-2 X4.03-8139
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Lunar Polar Resource Prospecting and Collection
PROPOSAL TITLE: Pneumatic Excavation Mechanism for Lunar Resource Utilization

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Honeybee Robotics Ltd.
460 W 34th Street
New York, NY 10001 - 4236
(212) 966-0661

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Kris Zacny
460 W 34th Street
New York, NY 10001 - 4236
(646) 459-7836

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Honeybee Robotics, in collaboration with Firestar Engineering, proposes to continue development of a pneumatic regolith excavating, moving and heating approach. With this additional maturity, this base technology will enable multiple applications in lunar surface operations. In particular: We propose to develop a prototype excavator for mining the top few centimeters to meter (via strip mining) of lunar regolith using pneumatics in an analogous jet-lift dredging method and excavating holes and trenches of various dimensions. This method uses a pulsed gas to draw adjacent material into a delivery pipe connected to a receiving container or exit tube for delivery over long distances. This work would continue development on the base technology of the pneumatic approach. We also propose to adapt the pneumatic system developed for mining to the task of regolith transfer. For example the pneumatic regolith transfer method could be used in place of an auger (which has a tendency to jam) to move the regolith from a hopper to an oxygen extraction plant. As another application of this pneumatic approach, we proposed to use dusty gas (regolith suspended in carrier gas feeding from a hopper to a processing plant) and heat it in a heat exchanger. The convective heat transfer (or even gaseous conduction) in granular material is much more effective than solid-solid conduction especially in vacuum where particle to particle conduction is minimal making a regolith four times better insulator than aerogel.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
There is no terrestrial application for this system as it was actually derived from the earth-based methods.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The pneumatic mining system with heat exchanger directly addresses goals of NASA Vision for Space Exploration. For example, imagine a lunar ISRU plant with power supply that has a "lunar vacuum" hose that is used to acquire the lunar feedstock. The dusty gas (gas with lunar regolith) that is acquired is passed through a heat exchanger in the ISRU plant where the particles are brought up to ~600C process temperature prior to depositing the hot feedstock into a reactor in preparation for the next O2 extraction process and porting the residual gas to a storage container for mining. The mining system may be used for ISRU – mining top few centimeters of lunar dust for oxygen extraction. In addition the same system may be used for construction purposes: excavating large holes and trenches, clearing fluffy layer of lunar regolith in preparation of the landing zones.

NASA's technology taxonomy has been developed by the SBIR-STTR program to disseminate awareness of proposed and awarded R/R&D in the agency. It is a listing of over 100 technologies, sorted into broad categories, of interest to NASA.

Earth-Supplied Resource Utilization
Fluid Storage and Handling
In-situ Resource Utilization
Integrated Robotic Concepts and Systems
Propellant Storage

Form Generated on 08-02-07 14:39