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Advanced Organic Waste Gasifier

NASA SBIR 2018-I Solicitation

Proposal Summary


PROPOSAL NUMBER:
 18-1- H3.02-8532
SUBTOPIC TITLE:
 Waste Management and Resource Recovery
PROPOSAL TITLE:
 Advanced Organic Waste Gasifier

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Pioneer Astronautics
11111 West 8th Avenue, Unit A
Lakewood , CO 80215-5516
(303) 980-0890

Principal Investigator (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Stacy Carrera
scarrera@pioneerastro.com
11111 West 8th Avenue, Unit A Lakewood, CO 80215 – 5516
(303) 339-7931

Business Official (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Robert Zubrin
zubrin@aol.com
11111 West 8th Avenue, Unit A Lakewood, CO 80215 – 5516
(303) 980-0890

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) :
Begin: 2
End: 4
Technical Abstract
The Advanced Organic Waste Gasifier (AOWG) is a novel technology to convert organic wastes from space exploration outposts into clean water and gases suitable for venting with the overall goal of minimizing vehicle mass for Mars transit and return missions. The AOWG integrates steam reformation, and electrolysis to convert organic waste into water and a small amount of inorganic matter and oxygen products, thereby reducing transit fuel and tankage mass. The AOWG reduces risks associated with storing, handling, and disposing food waste and packaging, waste paper, wipes and towels, gloves, fecal matter, urine brine, and maximum absorbency garments in microgravity environments. The gasifier provides nearly complete conversion of feeds to valuable water and jettisoned gas with minimal losses and consumables requirements. The AOWG incorporates significant novel enhancements to previous state-of-the-art Trash to Gas (TtG) steam reforming technology including a feed preparation system, continuous feeder, and tar destruction reactor to produce clean water. The AOWG crew operation requirements consist of packaging wastes in a manner similar to the ‘football’ preparation methods currently used in state-of-the art TtG systems but are not limited to this preparation method. The actual operation of the AOWG is largely automated and requires minimal crew intervention. The proposed Phase I AOWG will be developed with a focus on achieving the maximum waste mass reduction simultaneous with water production using feeding, materials handling, and ancillary systems geared to microgravity operations. These concepts will be integrated into a flight ready Phase II design, which will simulate a microgravity environment necessary to operate the AOWG through startup, steady operation, and shutdown. This progression of development will lead to implementation in advanced human space missions.
Potential NASA Applications
AOWG system is key for human space exploration, converting organic crew wastes into clean water, a small mass of sterile inorganic residue, and clean gases suitable for venting from the spacecraft. The AOWG is targeted toward minimizing overall transit vehicle mass, which minimizes mass requirement for propellants and tankage. Waste mass reduction with water recovery is critical for life support and to reduce overall flight costs.
Potential Non-NASA Applications
AOWG has applicability for terrestrial energy recovery, fuel synthesis, and chemicals synthesis from renewable resources, agricultural wastes, municipal wastes, and other organic-containing wastes including paper and plastics. These organic-containing resources can be processed by AOWG methods to produce syngas, which can be further converted into methanol or other fuels and chemicals using Fischer-Tropsch or other catalytic synthesis processes.

Form Generated on 05/25/2018 11:29:34

Liquid Sorption Pump

NASA SBIR 2018-I Solicitation

Proposal Summary


PROPOSAL NUMBER:
 18-1- H1.01-1164
SUBTOPIC TITLE:
 Mars Atmosphere ISRU for Mission Consumables
PROPOSAL TITLE:
 Liquid Sorption Pump

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Pioneer Astronautics
11111 West 8th Avenue, Unit A
Lakewood , CO 80215-5516
(303) 980-0890

Principal Investigator (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Robert Zubrin
zubrin@aol.com
11111 West 8th Avenue, Unit A Lakewood, CO 80215 – 5516
(303) 980-0890

Business Official (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Robert Zubrin
zubrin@aol.com
11111 West 8th Avenue, Unit A Lakewood, CO 80215 – 5516
(303) 980-0890

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) :
Begin: 2
End: 4
Technical Abstract
The Liquid Sorption Pump (LSP) is a new technology for acquiring CO2 from the Martian atmosphere for use in In Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) systems. In the LSP, propanol is cooled to temperatures below -100 C, where it becomes an effective solvent for Mars atmospheric CO2. After absorbing 5 percent or more by mole CO2, the propanol is pumped to another vessel where it is heated to 30 C, releasing the CO2 at pressures of more than 1 bar. The clean warm propanol is then sent back to the absorption vessel, exchanging heat with the cold absorption column effluent as it goes. After the clean propanol is cooled to near the design absorption temperature in this way, a mechanical refrigerator is used to achieve the final temperature reduction. Advantages of the LSP are that it can operate continuously day or night without the need for mechanical vacuum roughing pumps, solid freezers, or large sorption beds, requires less power than other options, is readily scalable to high outputs, and that it stops all sulfur, dust, or non-condensable gases from reaching the ISRU reactor system. In the proposed SBIR Phase 1, an operating LSP will be demonstrated and its performance assessed.
Potential NASA Applications
The primary initial application of the LSP is to provide a reliable, low cost, low mass technology to acquire CO2 on the surface of Mars out of the local atmosphere at low power. Such a system can be used to enable human exploration of Mars, as well as a Mars Sample Return mission. The LSP is dramatically superior to current alternative methods of collecting Mars CO2 because its power requirement is much less. The LSP could also be used by NASA to reduce its own CO2 emissions.
Potential Non-NASA Applications
The LSP could be used to separate CO2 from flue gas. The US coal-fired electric power industry is in trouble because its CO2 emissions exceed government guidelines. The LSP can solve this by providing an economical method of collecting pure CO2 from flue gas. Once separated the CO2 could be used to enable enhanced oil recovery, expanding US oil production while combatting climate change.

Form Generated on 05/25/2018 11:29:21

Lunar Organic Waste Reformer

NASA SBIR 2009 Solicitation

FORM B – PROPOSAL SUMMARY


PROPOSAL NUMBER:09-1 X3.02-9169
SUBTOPIC TITLE:Lunar ISRU Development and Precursor Activities
PROPOSAL TITLE:Lunar Organic Waste Reformer

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Pioneer Astronautics
11111 W. 8th Avenue, Unit A
Lakewood, CO 80215 – 5516
(303) 980-0890

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Robert Zubrin
zubrin@aol.com
11111 W. 8th Avenue, Unit A
Lakewood, CO 80215 – 5516
(303) 980-0890

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract: 
Begin: 3
End: 5

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
The Lunar Organic Waste Reformer (LOWR) utilizes high temperature steam reformation to convert all plastic, paper, and human waste materials into useful gases. In the LOWR, solar thermal concentrators are used to heat steam directly to 900 C, after which the steam is injected into a reactor which is being fed with waste materials via a lock hopper. At the high temperatures, the steam will react with all organic materials to produce a gas mixture largely composed of hydrogen and carbon dioxide, with small fractions of methane and CO. After removing the remaining steam from the product stream via condensation, the gases are dusulfurized and then fed through a polysulfone membrane which separates CO and CH4 in the retentate from CO2 and H2 in the permeate. The retentate CO/CH4 gas stream can be used to reduce regolith, while the CO2/H2 permeate stream is sent to a Reverse Water Gas Shift (RWGS) reactor which transforms the CO2/H2 gas into CO and H2O. The CO can then be used for regolith reduction, while the H2O can be used as is, or electrolyzed to make oxygen and hydrogen. With effective recycling of the steam, no consumables are lost in the process. All products are liquids or gases, making the system highly reliable and subject to automation. In the proposed Phase 1 program, Pioneer Astronautics will build on its extensive heritage with development of RWGS and regolith reduction systems developed for Lunar and Mars in-situ propellant production to build and demonstrate a LOWR unit.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The LOWR would provide NASA with a technology capable of completely recycling the metabolic and plastic wastes of the crew of a lunar base to produce pure breathing oxygen, water, as well as useful reductants or fuels including CO, hydrogen, methane, and/or methanol, thereby significantly reducing lunar base logistic support costs. Mass savings for a 4 person base could be as much as 6 tons per year in lunar payload delivery, which translates into a reduction of 30 tons per year launched to orbit. Using electrical heat in place of solar thermal concentrators to superheat steam, the LOWR could also be used to recycle wastes on the International Space Station, the Orion spacecraft, or at a Mars base. In addition, LOWR technology can also be used to turn Martian atmospheric CO2 into useful methane and oxygen bipropellant. The ability to make such propellant on Mars is potentially a huge cost saver for both robotic Mars sample return (MSR) missions and well as human Mars exploration. Indeed, currently a major show stopper for the Mars sample return mission is the inadequacy of existing aerobrake technology to deliver a payload as massive as a fully-fueled Mars ascent vehicle to the Martian surface. By sharply reducing the mass that needs to be delivered to the surface, LOWR technology could not only reduce the cost of the MSR mission, but potentially enable it.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
On Earth, the LOWR could be used as a means of recycling plastics and other wastes to produce such useful clean burning fuels as methane, which is a prime product for generating electricity, and hydrogen and methanol, both of which are of great interest for use in fuel cells. Manufacture of such fuels from wastes could help achieve a reduction in total emission of greenhouse gases, since if disposed of otherwise or left to decay on their own, the carbon in the waste products would eventually turn into CO2 without displacing other fuel use. Currently, there is much public discussion over the possibility of converting cars to run on natural gas or methanol. If such programs move forward, LOWR technology could also be used to produce fuel for the automotive transportation market as well, thereby contributing significantly to liberating the nation from its dependence on foreign oil.

NASA’s technology taxonomy has been developed by the SBIR-STTR program to disseminate awareness of proposed and awarded R/R&D in the agency. It is a listing of over 100 technologies, sorted into broad categories, of interest to NASA.

TECHNOLOGY TAXONOMY MAPPING
Biochemical Conversion
Biomass Production and Storage
Biomedical and Life Support
Earth-Supplied Resource Utilization
In-situ Resource Utilization
Renewable Energy
Solar
Waste Processing and Reclamation

Form Generated on 09-18-09 10:14

NASA SBIR 2009 Solicitation

FORM B – PROPOSAL SUMMARY


PROPOSAL NUMBER:09-2 X3.02-9169
PHASE 1 CONTRACT NUMBER:NNX10CD27P
SUBTOPIC TITLE:Lunar ISRU Development and Precursor Activities
PROPOSAL TITLE:Lunar Organic Waste Reformer

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Pioneer Astronautics
11111 W. 8th Avenue, Unit A
Lakewood, CO 80215 – 5516
(303) 980-0890

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Robert Zubrin
zubrin@aol.com
11111 W. 8th Avenue, Unit A
Lakewood, CO 80215 – 5516
(303) 303-0890

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract: 
Begin: 3
End: 5

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
The Lunar Organic Waste Reformer (LOWR) utilizes high temperature steam reformation to convert all plastic, paper, and human waste materials into useful gases. In the LOWR, solar thermal concentrators are used to heat steam directly to 600 C, after which the steam is mixed with a small amount of oxygen and injected into a reactor which is being fed with waste materials via a lock hopper. At the high temperatures, the oxygenated steam will react with all organic materials to produce a gas mixture largely composed of hydrogen, CO and carbon dioxide. After removing the remaining steam from the product stream via condensation, the gases are dusulfurized and then fed to a catalytic reactor where they can be combined with hydrogen to produce methane, methanol, or other fuels. Both the necessary hydrogen and oxygen for the process can be produced by electrolysis of part of the water content of the waste material, which is extracted from the wastes directly by the reformer itself. With effective recycling of the steam, no consumables are lost in the process. All products are liquids or gases, making the system highly reliable and subject to automation. In the proposed Phase 2 program, Pioneer Astronautics will build a full-scale end-to-end LOWR system capable of turning 10 kg of waste per day into methane and oxygen.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The LOWR can be a key component of the lunar exploration program by allowing available power sources to enable production of oxygen and fuel on a sufficient scale to significantly reduce Lunar base logistic requirements. Depending upon the rocket propulsion and transportation system employed, the fuel produced by the LOWR from recycled waste can comprise between 50% and 100% of a fuel required to operate a lunar ascent vehicle used to transport crew from the Lunar surface to orbit. The oxygen produced can also comprise a substantial fraction of all oxidizer required by a lunar ascent vehicle system, thereby minizizing further the propellant mass that needs to be transported at great expense from Earth, or alternatively, greatly reducing the mass and power requirements of a system designed to extract oxygen from lunar regolith. Therefore, the ability to produce fuel and oxygen in quantity on the lunar surface can have a major role in reducing total program costs.
The LOWR is not limited to Lunar applications. It can be used on the Martian surface, or on any long duration piloted spacecraft, including the International Space Station or any deep space crewed vehicle used for example on human missions to Near Earth asteroids or Mars. In such latter applications it offers great advantages as a means of transforming crew wastes into useful propellants that can be used to enable station keeping, mid-course corrections, or other deep space maneuvers.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The Lunar Organic Waste Recycler can also be a valuable tool wherever organic wastes or other low cost biomass are available for conversion to synthesis gas. Corn stover, for example, is currently available commercially in large quantities for $40/tonne. If converted into synthesis gas, each tonne of corn stover can provide enough carbon monoxide and to make about 700 kg of methanol, which at current spot market prices would sell for about $200. Methanol is currently used as a major commodity in the chemical industry and could be used a motor vehicle fuel in flex fuel cars. The LOWR could similarly be used to transform other crop and forestry residues, as well as urban paper, plastic, and metabolic wastes into synthesis gas for production of methane or liquid hydrocarbon fuels via Fischer Tropsch processes. Thus LOWR technology could become the basis for highly profitable industries which make a significant contribution towards the vital national goal of freeing the nation from its dependence on foreign oil.
The LOWR can be built on a modest scale making it readily transportable by truck, ship, or airplane. This makes it ideal for use in remote locations such as military outposts or third world villages which need to obtain fuel without ready access to ordinary commercial suppliers. Methane from remotely operated LOWR-derived units could be used to generate power in on site gas turbines, for motor vehicle fuel, or for cooking or other purposes

TECHNOLOGY TAXONOMY MAPPING (NASA’s technology taxonomy has been developed by the SBIR-STTR program to disseminate awareness of proposed and awarded R/R&D in the agency. It is a listing of over 100 technologies, sorted into broad categories, of interest to NASA.)
Biochemical Conversion
Chemical
Earth-Supplied Resource Utilization
In-situ Resource Utilization
Renewable Energy
Waste Processing and Reclamation

Form Generated on 08-06-10 17:29