PCI To Develop Ultra-Compact Microlith® Sabatier Reactor Offering Advance In Long Range Manned Spaceflight
NORTH HAVEN, CT (October 28, 2010)
Precision Combustion, Inc. (PCI) announced today that its ultra-compact Microlith® Sabatier reactor technology for recycling carbon dioxide to oxygen in manned space missions has been selected for development under a NASA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II award. Currently, the International Space Station (ISS) crew's primary supply of oxygen is produced by electrolyzing water carried by shuttle to the ISS. This involves substantial transport costs and is impractical without regular re-supply. In the present ISS air revitalization system (ARS), exhaled carbon dioxide (CO2) is vented overboard, resulting in a net loss of oxygen.
PCI's Microlith® Sabatier reaction technology offers an ultra-compact, high efficiency catalytic reactor as a means of producing water vapor and methane from spacecraft cabin CO2 reacted with hydrogen over a catalyst. The water can then be electrolyzed to release oxygen and hydrogen. Produced methane has the potential to be used as fuel and other in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) applications. CO2 is obtained from astronaut respiration, and on Mars can also be obtained from the Martian atmosphere. The result is a tool for improved manned mission resource independence and reduced lift/resupply costs.
In Phase I, comparing to current and prospective alternatives, PCI demonstrated a much smaller, lighter, and more durable system offering greater energy and resource efficiency as well as longer life. In Phase II, PCI will build on Phase I proof of concept success to develop, demonstrate, and deliver an integrated 4-crew Sabatier Reactor Development Unit (SDU) for NASA laboratory testing.
Dr. Christian Junaedi, the Project's Principal Investigator, commented,
"This project offers a significant advance in support of long range manned spaceflight. Recycling carbon dioxide efficiently to produce life support consumables and fuels is needed to enable long-term manned space exploration and station self-sustainability. Our technology offers this in a compact and lightweight package."
The development of PCI’s Microlith® Sabatier reactor has the potential for application in future NASA missions by generating oxygen and water from spacecraft and in-situ resources. Size, weight, resource and energy efficiency, and performance durability are all key design attributes. PCI’s Sabatier reactor features an ultra-compact, lightweight design while maintaining high selectivity to water and methane products. Proof of concept has been validated. Targeted NASA applications include ISRU architecture for future lunar base and Mars missions, both for generating life support consumables and for producing methane for fuel. In addition, non-NASA spin-off applications may be explored such as methanation for ammonia production and potentially for cleaner coal-based power production.
Precision Combustion, Inc. (www.precision-combustion.com) is a clean energy technology company developing and manufacturing catalytic devices and systems for energy sector applications. To learn more, visit www.precision-combustion.com.
For more information, contact: Tony Anderson
Manager, Marketing and Business Development