NASA SBIR 2011 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 11-1 X1.01-9003
SUBTOPIC TITLE: In-Situ Resource Characterization, Extraction, Transfer, and Processing
PROPOSAL TITLE: Miniature Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer for In-Situ Resource Utilization

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Creare, Inc.
P.O. Box 71
Hanover, NH 03755 - 3116
(603) 643-3800

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Paul Sorensen
P.O. Box 71
Hanover, NH 03755 - 3116
(603) 643-3800 Extension :2340

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 3
End: 4

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
In situ resource utilization (ISRU) is essential for several of NASA's future flagship missions. Currently envisioned ISRU plants include production of oxygen from hydrogen reduction of lunar regolith and extraction of water from Martian regolith or asteroid material. These ISRU processes require heating of the regolith to high reaction temperatures. To support ISRU activities, NASA requires the development of a compact, lightweight gas chromatograph – mass spectrometer (GC-MS) instrument that can quantify volatile gases released by sample heating below atomic number 70. The instrument must also be designed to withstand exposure to the release of HF, HCl, or Hg that may result from heating regolith samples to high temperatures. Creare proposes to design, build, and test a compact, lightweight gas chromatograph - mass spectrometer (GC-MS) system, capable of detecting, identifying, and quantifying ppm to 100%-level concentrations of relevant compounds having mass less than 100 amu. Our GC-MS design is based on components that have been previously or can easily be space-qualified using techniques proven on numerous past space hardware development projects. During the Phase I project, we will prove our design with benchtop testing, and in Phase II, we plan to build engineering model versions of our GC-MS.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The main initial application area for the proposed gas chromatograph mass spectrometer for ISRU plants will be in NASA's future missions to Mars and the Moon, as well as other bodies such as Near Earth objects (NEOs). Long-duration missions to the Moon will need substantial amounts of resources for life support and energy. Martian sample return missions and manned missions to Mars may be prohibitively expensive, technically exigent, and unacceptably risky unless resources can be produced on Mars. An ISRU propellant production plant on Mars may be needed for the sample return mission that NASA is envisioning in the 2020s.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The primary private sector applications for the proposed gas chromatograph mass spectrometer system is for use in performing portable chemical analysis, particularly when looking for harmful gases. The sensitive and specific sensor that we propose to develop will not only help ensure the timely generation of data for hazardous gas detection, but will also provide this capability to commercial organizations wishing to perform chemical analysis in the field. For example, the proposed system would be invaluable for supporting first responder personnel who need to determine the safety of areas during cleaning and securing activities for interval testing in different areas. On the commercial front, inexpensive portable mass spectrometers would revolutionize pollution monitoring, process control, and the response to incidents by emergency personnel.

TECHNOLOGY TAXONOMY MAPPING (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.)
Analytical Instruments (Solid, Liquid, Gas, Plasma, Energy; see also Sensors)

Form Generated on 11-22-11 13:43