NASA NIAC – two orders of magnitude mass and power saving for Life Support and Reduced Complexity

The abundant high-energy light in space (with wavelengths as low as 190 nm, compared to 300 nm on Earth) makes the TiO2 co-catalyst an ideal approach for sustainable air processor to generate O2, without consuming any thermal or electrical energy. The combination of novel photoelectrochemistry and 3-dimensional design allows tremendous mass saving, hardware complexity reduction, increases in deployment flexibility and removal efficiency. The high tortousity photocatalystic air processor design will achieve at least two orders of magnitude mass and power saving respectively, and enable feasibility of compact processors for spacecraft. The proposed work will demonstrate these drastic reduction in reactor mass, volume and power consumption in comparison to current technology with delivery of high-tortuosity device components allowed by 3D printing (potentially in space) at the end of the proposed work.

Environmental control life support systems (ECLSS) are detailed at this link.

A 600 days Mars mission often have ECLSS that would weigh about 19 tons using chemical oxygen and CO2 scrubber systems. They then try to alter the design components to get the weight down to 4 tons. The NIAC project could bring the weight down to 200 kilograms or less.

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