NASA SBIR 2007 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 07-2 X5.01-8867
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Oxygen Production from Lunar Regolith
PROPOSAL TITLE: Heat Pipe Solar Receiver for Oxygen Production of Lunar Regolith

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Advanced Cooling Technologies, Inc.
1046 New Holland Avenue
Lancaster, PA 17601 - 5688
(717) 295-6058

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
John Hartenstine
1046 New Holland Avenue
Lancaster, PA 17601 - 5688
(717) 295-6061

Expected Technology Readiness Level (TRL) upon completion of contract: 6

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Researchers have determined that lunar soil contains approximately 43% oxygen in the lunar soil oxides, which could be extracted to provide breathable oxygen for consumption by astronauts. The proposed program will develop a solar receiver for the hydrogen reduction process that uses sodium heat pipes in the 1050oC temperature range. The heat pipe solar receiver is accepts the non-uniform solar thermal energy, and deliver the energy to the lunar regolith with a uniform heat flux and temperature. This increases throughput and efficiency. The principal Phase II program objective is to design, fabricate, and demonstrate a heat pipe solar receiver in a relevant environment and near optimum configuration. While the Phase I program focused on a single heat pipe solar receiver and regolith reactor, the Phase II program will examine variable-conductance or pressure-controlled heat pipes to supply the heat supplied from a single receiver to multiple reactors. The program will examine control schemes to vary the heat supplied to each reactor, hydrogen permeation, and evaluation of the heat pipe wall materials.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The immediate application is the development of a heat pipe solar receiver for oxygen production from lunar regolith. A lunar oxygen production plant is projected to provide breathable oxygen for astronauts a well as oxygen for rocket propulsion. In the current requirement, lunar regolith is processed to generate 1 metric ton of oxygen per year. This may be accomplished passively using a single heat pipe solar receiver/regolith reactor system or with multiple reactors using an active control scheme. The receiver could also be used for materials processing, processing lunar resources into materials such as concrete, fiberglass, and aluminum.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
One commercial application is VCHP heat exchangers in fuel cell reformers. In a fuel cell reformer, diesel fuel and air pass through a series of high temperature reactors to generate hydrogen. The operating temperature of the reactors must be closely controlled to maintain their chemical equilibrium. The current scheme uses a bypass valve, which has several drawbacks: it requires active control, requires power, and has a large pressure drop. ACT believes that VCHP heat exchangers can replace the current heat exchanger and control system with a passive system that automatically maintains the output stream from the heat exchanger at a constant temperature. The second application is adding pressure control to ACT's current line of commercial isothermal furnace liners, which are annular alkali metal heat pipes that provide nearly isothermal temperature uniformity. Adding pressure control will allow the temperature to be controlled within millikelvins, adding in isothermal processing of materials, thermophysical properties characterization, and calibration of temperature references.

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.

In-situ Resource Utilization

Form Generated on 10-23-08 13:36