During previous planetary exploration missions, deleterious effects have been observed due to fine particulates including fouling mechanisms, altering thermal properties, obscuring optical systems, abrading textiles, and scratching surfaces. With near term goals to return to the Moon, lunar dust is of particular concern and can potentially negatively affect every lunar architecture system. To mitigate this concern, Mainstream proposes to leverage our knowledge garnered for cyclone precipitators currently being developed as a particulate concentrator for the Radionuclide Aerosol Sampler/Analyzer (RASA). This concentrator uses 32 single-stage cyclone separators in parallel allowing for 16.7 CFM with a pressure drop across the system of 1.5 kPa. Separation efficiencies are >99% for >1 mm; 96% for 0.5 mm; and 80% for 0.2 mm. For Phase I, we will utilize our existing robust CFD and in-house cyclone optimization toolset to modify the RASA concentrator geometry to better reflect NASA’s separator requirements (i.e. lower volumetric flow rate, lower pressure drop). We will then design the precipitator to enhance the cyclone’s sub-micron efficiency and validate performance predictions using bench-scale experiments. Finally, we will design the full-scale system to determine size, weight, and power requirements. In Phase II, we will design, fabricate, and validate a full-scale prototype.
NASA applications for the proposed cyclone precipitator sub-micron particulate separation system include future manned missions such as Gateway and Mars including both general air purification of the main cabin of the manned spacecraft as well as the removal of planetary dust from main cabins and airlocks of the planetary habitat.
Non-NASA applications are numerous including nuclear radiation sensors (RASA and ARSA), industrial separators, commercial/medical/residential air purification, and particulate concentrators for detection apparatus. With respect to additional manned spacecraft, non-government commercial entities such as Space-X, Blue Origin, Bigelow Aerospace, and others include space tourism as a future goal.