NASA SBIR 2018-II Solicitation

Proposal Summary

 18-2- S1.07-5133
 In Situ Instruments/Technologies for Planetary Science
 Solid-State, Electrochemical Micro-Sensors for Atmospheric Nitrogen and Carbon Dioxide Measurements at the Surface of Venus
SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Makel Engineering, Inc.
1585 Marauder Street
Chico, CA 95973
(530) 895-2770

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Darby Makel
1585 Marauder Street
Chico, CA 95973 - 9064
(530) 895-2771

BUSINESS OFFICIAL (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Darby Makel
1585 Marauder Street
Chico, CA 95973 - 9064
(530) 895-2771

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) :
Begin: 4
End: 6
Technical Abstract (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)

Makel Engineering, Inc. (MEI) proposes to develop high temperature, solid state sensors to monitor carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrogen (N2) in the Venus atmosphere.  A harsh environment chemical sensor array suitable for measuring key trace species in the Venus atmosphere has been developed by MEI under a recent SBIR program. Currently there are no demonstrated chemical microsensors suitable to measure the two most abundant species (CO2 ~ 97% and N2~ 3%) in the Venus atmosphere at high pressure and high temperature conditions (CO2 and N2 exist as supercritical fluids near Venus surface). The proposed amperometric and potentiometric sensors are compatible with silicon carbide (SiC) electronics under development for Venus chemical sensing instruments, complementing recent and ongoing efforts to support Venus atmospheric analysis. Future missions which may descent through the atmosphere and operate on the surface of Venus measuring the composition of the atmosphere would benefit from this new capability to accurately measure small variations of N2 and CO2 concentration.


Phase I of the program focused on design and demonstration of the sensor material systems and sensing capability.  Prototype sensors were fabricated and tested in relevant laboratory conditions, demonstrating the technology to TRL 4. In Phase II, the CO2 and N2 sensors will be coupled with electronics to meet the needs of key applications of interest.  For planetary use, SiC based electronics being developed by MEI under the Hot Operating Temperature Technology (HOTTech) program will enable operation of chemical sensors for extended periods on the surface of Venus. 

Potential NASA Applications (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)

In addition to monitoring the CO2 and N2 concentration in the Venus atmosphere, the sensor can be used to monitor CO2 and N2 in the Mars atmosphere, as well as support of Mars in situ resource utilization (ISRU), such as capture and pressurization systems for capture, concentration and utilization of CO2 from the Mars atmosphere.

Potential Non-NASA Applications (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)

Monitoring CO2 generated in molten carbonate cell anode and consumed in cathode enables controlling CO2 addition to make up deficiencies. N2 is used to protect cell components.  The carbon sequestration and CO2 recovery markets have an unmet need for CO2 sensing and trace nitrogen detection.  Harsh environment instrumentation market share is projected at 100% as there is currently an unmet need.

Duration: 24

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