NASA SBIR 2008 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 08-2 X3.03-9828
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Lunar ISRU Development and Precursor Activities
PROPOSAL TITLE: Lunar Soil Particle Separator

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

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Mark Berggren
11111 W. 8th Avenue, Unit A
Lakewood, CO, CO 80215 - 5516
(303) 980-0231

Expected Technology Readiness Level (TRL) upon completion of contract: 4 to 5

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
The Lunar Soil Particle Separator (LSPS) is an innovative method to beneficiate soil prior to in-situ resource utilization (ISRU). The LSPS can improve ISRU oxygen yield by boosting the concentration of ilmenite or other iron-oxide bearing materials found in lunar soils. This can substantially reduce hydrogen reduction reactor size and drastically decrease the power input required for soil heating. LSPS particle size separations can be performed to de-dust regolith and to improve ISRU reactor flow dynamics. LSPS mineral separations can be used to alter the sintering characteristics of lunar soil. The LSPS can also be used to separate and concentrate lunar minerals useful for manufacture of structural materials, glass, and chemicals. The LSPS integrates an initial centrifugal particle size separation with magnetic, gravity, and electrostatic separations. The LSPS centrifugal separation method overcomes the reduced efficiency of conventional particle sieving in reduced gravity. The LSPS hardware design integrates many individual unit operations to reduce system mass and power requirements. The LSPS is applicable to ISRU feed processing as well as robotic prospecting to characterize soils over wide regions on the Moon. The LSPS is scalable and is amenable to testing and development in vacuum and reduced gravity.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The primary initial application of the LSPS is for lunar particle separations in support of improving the feed to hydrogen reduction ISRU. The LSPS has direct use to improve the overall efficiency of hydrogen reduction by boosting the iron oxide content of soils. In addition, the LSPS has uses for de-dusting and optimizing particle size distribution to improve material flow properties. The LSPS can also serve as a component of a robotic lunar prospector to characterize soils and their potential for ISRU applications.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Non-NASA applications are directed toward small-scale terrestrial mineral processing. The LSPS can be useful in remote locations where a compact, low-power device is needed to perform dry separations for production of mineral concentrates. The LSPS can be used as a pilot scale device for process development and plant optimization, providing quick turnaround if used in conjunction with portable analysis hardware.

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