NASA 1998 SBIR Phase I


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 98-1 09.01-0890B

PROJECT TITLE: Mars Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Freezer

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (LIMIT 200 WORDS)

The Mars Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Freezer (MACDOF) is a low cost and low power refrigerating device that will condense carbon dioxide directly from the Martian atmosphere. This device can be used to provide the carbon dioxide feed required by many ISPP processes. The freezer operates in batch fashion, solidifying the CO2 for a specified period of time before closing isolation valves to allow the generation of high-pressure carbon dioxide feed by rewarming the heat exchanger. During the freezing operation, the MACDOF provides separation of the CO2 from other atmospheric constituents such as nitrogen and argon, allowing collection of a stream of these components in the freezer effluent. The MACDOF uses a closed circuit single component refrigerant circuit to achieve high power efficiencies. To achieve the required temperature span with a single refrigerant, a Martian nighttime temperature frozen propanol heat sink is used to reject the waste heat from the refrigerant cycle. The MACDOF is lighter than the sorption pumps and requires less power than compressors. The MACDOF can also enable high-pressure ISPP systems that produce low-hydrogen fuels. The oxygen produced by such high-pressure ISPP systems can be liquefied at 140 K by the MACDOF for very little power.

POTENTIAL COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS

The MACDOF is a refrigerator designed to cool materials down to 140 K. As such, it could work just as well on Earth as on Mars and have widespread use in industry, food processing and medicine, as well as research in physics, chemistry, biology, and numerous other fields. Currently, off-the-shelf refrigerators are available to cool to dry-ice temperatures (210 K) or liquid nitrogen temperatures (77 K). However between these extremes, no small, low cost refrigeration systems are available. A 140 K refrigerator would find a place right at the mid-point of this large temperature gap. It would thus be assured of numerous customers who need temperatures substantially lower than dry-ice but well above those of liquid nitrogen, and who do not wish to incur the large costs (>$10,000) required to buy small liquid nitrogen class refrigerators.

NAME AND ADDRESS OF PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR

Robert M. Zubrin
Pioneer Astronautics
445 Union Blvd., Suite 125
Lakewood , CO 80228

NAME AND ADDRESS OF OFFEROR

Pioneer Astronautics
445 Union Blvd., Suite 125
Lakewood , CO 80228