NASA SBIR 2008 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 08-2 X3.02-9756
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Oxygen Production from Lunar Regolith
PROPOSAL TITLE: High Surface Area Iridium Anodes and Melt Containers for Molten Oxide Electrolysis

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Plasma Processes, Inc.
4914 Moores Mill Road
Huntsville, AL 35811 - 1558
(256) 851-7653

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Angela Hattaway
4914 Moores Mill Road
Huntsville, AL 35811 - 1558
(256) 256-7653

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

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Direct electrochemical reduction of molten regolith is the most attractive method of oxygen production on the lunar surface, because no additional chemical reagents are needed. The process is proven on a laboratory scale, but the cathode-anode system and melt containers need to be improved for practical applications. The electrochemical processing of molten oxides requires high surface area inert anodes. Such electrodes need to be structurally robust at elevated temperatures (1400-1600oC), resistant to thermal shock, have good electrical conductivity, resistant to attack by molten oxide (silicate), electrochemically stable, and support high current density. Iridium is a proven material for this application. Innovative concepts for large scale, high surface area iridium anodes and long life, self-heating containers for the melts are proposed. The result of this program will be the development, manufacture, and test of high surface area iridium anodes and melt containers for molten oxide electrolysis to produce oxygen.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
In-Situ resource utilization is critical for permanent establishment of a lunar base. Molten regolith electrolysis will be used for ISRU oxygen generation and metals manufacturing on the moon. Same materials used by NASA for rocket nozzles and oxygen protection.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Large scale, high surface iridium anodes will be used for titanium production from molten oxide electrolytes. High surface, dimensionally stable iridium anodes could also be used in the chlorine production industry and extractive metallurgy. Non-consumable iridium anodes could be used in copper foil electrochemical production. Another potential application is for dimensionally stable iridium-based composite anodes is the electroplating industry. Other applications are the petro-chemical industry, catalyst production, crystal growth, spark plugs, and rocket nozzles.

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 08-03-09 13:26