In this Phase I SBIR, XploSafe proposes to develop and confirm the technical feasibility of the use of nanoporous silica as a vacuum regenerable sorbent for integration into NASA’s Exploration Portable Life Support System (xPLSS). Not only is this sorbent vacuum regenerable, it has other advantages over activated carbon that could benefit the NASA space program. Two of these is higher sorption capacities for volatile organic compounds and more rapid sorption rates that could lead to reduced weight and size requirements. In this investigation, the sorption rate and capacity for seven of the highest priority trace contaminants (based on generation rates and Spacecraft Maximum Allowable Concentrations (SMAC) limits) will be determined. The ability for these contaminants to be removed from the sorbent by exposure to a moderate vacuum at ambient temperature will be demonstrated. Once the uptake capacities and rates for each trace contaminant are known for the OSU-6 sorbent and the logistics for vacuum regeneration of the sorbent have been determined, it will be possible to create a concept design for the vacuum regenerable element that could be integrated into the Exploration Portable Life Support System. This will be used in Phase II to produce and test a prototype vacuum-regenerable Trace Contaminant Control element
Successful development of the proposed technology will advance the state of the art in trace contamination control. As a part of the Exploration Portable Life Support System (xPLSS) and the Exploration Extra-vehicular Mobility Unit (xEMU) units, the platform technology will advance the viability of NASA's crewed deep space exploration objectives.
Success in developing more effective and efficient filtration media could provide a significant enhancement in the protection of public health and the environment. This new filter media will serve a wide variety of markets as high efficiency particulate air filters (HEPA) in HVAC systems. Applications range from clean rooms, labs, industrial manufacturers, coal and ore mining facilities etc.