In this Phase II SBIR proposal, XploSafe will build on its Phase I work investigating the use of nanoporous silica as a sorbent for NASA’s Trace Contamination Control System within the Exploration Portable Life Support System (xPLSS). Phase I results demonstrated the feasibility of using nanoporous silica as a vacuum regenerable sorbent for integration into NASA’s xPLSS. It was shown that this sorbent has significant advantages due to its high capacity for ammonia and other trace contaminants. It also has the ability to be vacuum regenerated for potential future integration into the swing-bed structures in the xPLSS. For Phase II, XploSafe will further investigate physical properties of the sorbent as it related to specific NASA requirements, expand experimental measurements of the capacity and kinetics for the sorption of potential trace contaminants and their combinations to 18 potential target analytes, and develop and verify a prototype for integration in the xPLSS. The combination of the nanoporous silica and a functionalized material will be considered to ensure complete elimination of the wide range of contaminants. For the prototype, two different versions will be examined, one in which the sorbent will be contained in microporous tubes, preventing all possibility of dust generation at the expense of kinetics; and a second more traditional design based on direct flow through the sorbent filter material. At a minimum, an early prototype is envisioned at the midpoint of the Phase II contract with the final version delivered at the end of the project
Successful development of the proposed technology will advance the state of the art in trace contamination control. As a part the Exploration Portable Life Support System (xPLSS) and the Exploration Extra-vehicular Mobility Unit (xEMU) units, the new sorbent 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.