NASA SBIR 2009 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 09-1 X3.01-8530
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Oxygen Production from Lunar Regolith
PROPOSAL TITLE: Contaminant Robust System for Oxygen Production from Lunar Regolith

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Paragon Space Development Corporation
3481 E. Michigan Street
Tucson, AZ 85714 - 2221
(520) 382-4814

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Christine Iacomini
3481 E. Michigan Street
Tucson, AZ 85714 - 2221
(520) 382-4824

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 2
End: 3

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
The necessity of oxygen for consumption by human inhabitants on the lunar surface is readily apparent. NASA is pursuing several ways to generate oxygen from lunar regolith and reduce reliance on Earth for consumable re-supply. The most mature method is via hydrogen reduction. Paragon SDC proposes an innovative method for removing the problematic acidic contaminates from the water vapor compound released during the first stage of the hydrogen reduction process. This innovation also includes a subsequent high temperature water electrolysis technology that is insensitive to dissolved ions, should they persist beyond the acid scrubber. The final product of this system could essentially produce a source of oxygen using almost only in situ resources including lunar regolith (assumed to contain trace amounts of hydrogen) and sunlight. The process could be built to require very little crew interaction and is planned to be highly resistive to harsh chemical interactions. Further, the high temperature electrolysis proposed produces pure, dry oxygen making it a very appealing solution to the challenges facing ISRU programs in generating oxygen from lunar regolith.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The acid scrubber will remove acid contaminants from a moist stream directly received from a lunar regolith hydrogen reduction reactor. This acid-free water stream can then be delivered directly to a high temperature solid oxide electrolysis (SOE) unit to produce pure, dry oxygen.
The acid scrubbing technology can also be applied to several NASA processes where water needs to be separated from methane. Specific NASA examples include down stream of Sabatier reactors used in air revitalization systems, lunar regolith carbothermal reduction systems, and propellant production systems on Mars. In all, the water is separated and sent to an electrolyzer to recycle hydrogen and produce oxygen as a consumable.
SOE is currently being developed as a technology for air revitalization systems, enabling 100% oxygen regeneration from human metabolic byproducts alone. As SOE can electrolyze carbon dioxide as well as water, SOE can also potentially be used in other lunar regolith reduction systems that use carbon monoxide or methane as the reducing agent.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The non-NASA applications are significant as terrestrial based applications of SOE (and its other function as a solid oxide fuel cell) also are threatened by contaminants such as sulfuric acid. The acid scrubber and SOE unit may be used in carbon sequestration and oxygen reclamation systems installed in petroleum refining plants.

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 09-18-09 10:14