In-situ resource utilization (ISRU) increases the efficiency of space missions by utilizing indigenous resources on a planet or moon to reduce the amount of material that must be brought from Earth. Oxygen is one of the most valuable materials in space operations and is abundant in Lunar regolith (up to 40%). Unfortunately, the lunar regolith beneficiation process for producing oxygen results in process gases that may be contaminated with sulfur (H2S) and halide (HCl, HF) impurities, all of which must be removed.
TDA Research, Inc. proposes to develop durable, high-capacity regenerable sorbents that can remove sulfur and halide contaminants from the process gas containing the oxygenated species produced from lunar regolith. We will use two regenerable sorbents, one of which will reduce the amount of HCl and HF, while the other will remove the H2S to parts per billion levels.
In the proposed work we will synthesize new sorbent formulations and evaluate their performance under representative conditions. We will explore the methods to prepare these sorbents on engineered structures to increase their durability and promote better heat transfer during the thermal regeneration process. We will perform a minimum of 500 adsorption/regeneration cycles to demonstrate the life of these sorbents. Finally, we will carry out a detailed engineering analysis and design to assess the technical viability of the concept.
The main attraction of our research to NASA is its ability to provide a lightweight, compact, and efficient gas purification system to enable the production of oxygen from Lunar regolith feasible. This will minimize the amount of consumables to be brought from Earth and make the mission more affordable. In addition to supporting the mission to the Moon, the sorbent-based contaminant clean-up process may also applicable to trace contaminant removal from spacecraft cabin air.
The sorbents developed in this project will find use in the large environmental emissions control market. The market for materials that remove contaminants from vent air streams and environmental emissions reductions which has annual U.S. sales of $4 billion.