In order to achieve the long duration manned deep-space missions, NASA created the Spacecraft Oxygen Recovery (SCOR) project aiming to increase the oxygen recovery of the Sabatier technology from 50% to 75-100%, and the Game Changing Development Program has been seeking techniques addressing “Advanced Oxygen Recovery for Spacecraft Life Support Systems”. Space oxygen recovery technologies implemented include carbon formation reactors (CFR) and methane pyrolysis assembly (PPA) reactors. These technologies, however, almost universally result in the formation of particulate carbon, which could undermine the operation of the spacecraft and threaten crew safety. Therefore, this proposed project directly addresses the needs of the subtopic H3.01: Advancements in Carbon Dioxide Reduction: Critical Subsystems and Solid Carbon Repurposing. The overall objective of the proposed project is to develop a new class of catalytic nanoarray-based monolithic filters to achieve the efficient filtration of particulate carbon for space oxygen recovery by integrating catalytically active nanostructured arrays onto the porous metal particulate filters. During the filtration process, the conformal nanoarray forests can increase the filtration efficiency while maintaining a low-pressure drop. Meanwhile, the nanoarray-supported catalysts can motivate the carbon gasification reaction and achieve fast filter regeneration at low temperatures. The proposed particulate filter could also completely avoid crew exposure to the accumulated carbon particulates. This project, if completed, will enable NASA to remove and manage the particulate carbon in the space station in a more efficient way with a more space compact, light-weighted, energy-efficient, and easily regenerable filtration device.
The proposed nanoarray-based monolithic filter is designed for the filtration of carbon particulate emissions from the plasma pyrolysis assembly for methane decomposition, but it could also be used to remove different particulate contaminant in other areas of the space stations.
The nanoarray-based monolithic filters will provide an energy-efficient, cost-effective, space compact and easily regenerable technology to remove particulate matters in different applications. For example, it can be employed as particulate filters used in industrial plants, power stations, and commercial buildings. It may also be used to control particulate emissions from automotive vehicles.