Precision Combustion, Inc. (PCI) proposes a compact, vacuum-regenerable sorbent bed for effectively removing a broad range of trace contaminants, meeting topic performance requirements, which can be integrated with the Exploration Portable Life Support System (xPLSS) CO2/H2O removal system. Both the primary trace contaminants (ammonia, CO, formaldehyde, and methyl mercaptan) as well as other species that threaten to exceed the 7-day Spacecraft Maximum Allowable Concentration (SMAC) levels during an EVA were addressed via sub-scale testing in Phase I. These sorbents with different properties were combined in the modular Trace Contaminant Control (TCC) bed, tailored to the requirements and in suitable proportion. Our approach is based on PCI’s proven sorbent nanomaterials that have high surface area on a structured support, enabling a compact, low pressure drop, and vacuum-regenerable TCC device. In Phase I, all objectives and proposed tasks were successfully completed to demonstrate proof-of-concept of these vacuum-regenerable sorbent materials and sorbent module for a compact, efficient TCC. This offers the potential for real-time, in-suit sorbent regeneration, reduced logistical burden associated with bed replacement or thermal regeneration, and further volume and weight reduction of the TCC packaging. At the end of Phase I, a modular, compact, low pressure drop, and durable integrated TCC design approach was identified. In this proposed follow-on Phase II, TCC hardware prototypes will be developed, demonstrated, and delivered to a NASA laboratory for further evaluation, performance validation, and possible integration with the xPLSS hardware design. This effort would be valuable to NASA as it would address the current xPLSS technology gap and increase mission capability/durability/extensibility while at the same time increasing the TRL of the novel vacuum regenerable TCC sorbents.
Targeted NASA applications will be in advanced spacesuit and exploration PLSS with key potential customers including Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Marshall Space Flight Center, and private sector customers. Additional NASA application includes Gateway and Artemis missions, future ISRU concepts for Lunar or Martian bases, spacecraft, and for the International Space Station.
Targeted non-NASA applications include commercial aircraft air purification systems and for military vehicle cabins such as in aircraft, ships and submarines. Another market for this technology would be commercial buildings where it can have significant impact on the demand control ventilation and indoor air quality, resulting in significant decrease in associated energy and other costs.