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). For Phase I, we will utilized 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). The design consisted of 34 parallel cyclones, each capable of 11 m3/min with a pressure drop of only 137 Pa. Combining the cyclones with our designed electrostatic agglomerator will result in a predicted separation efficiency >99% for all particles >0.3 mm. During Phase II, we will incorporate our QwikPure TripleGuardTM in-duct air purification system for microbial and fungal control. In addition, we will fabricate a full-scale system and experimentally demonstrate the system in relevant (e.g., reduced gravity, reduced pressure) environments.
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.