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Sabatier Methanation Reactor for Space Exploration
Author and Affiliation:
Murdoch, Karen(Hamilton Sundstrand Space Systems International, Inc., Windsor Locks, CT, United States);
Goldblatt, Loel(Hamilton Sundstrand Space Systems International, Inc., Windsor Locks, CT, United States);
Carrasquillo, Robyn(NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL, United States);
Harris, Danny(NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL, United States)
Abstract: The Sabatier Methanation Reactor technology is of vital importance to the success of the human and robotic exploration program. In order to achieve an affordable program, the logistics supply to support the mission must be minimized to the fullest extent possible. One area of potential reduction with high return on investment is the closure of life support loops, particularly oxygen and water. The Sabatier system accomplishes this by utilizing hydrogen and carbon dioxide, waste products from the life support system, to produce water and methane. The recovered water is then recycled back into the life support system to provide oxygen; while the methane can be used for propulsion, or can be broken down further to recover the hydrogen. This technology is applicable not only to transit phases of exploration, but surface habitats as well as in-situ propellant production. The Sabatier Reactor system has been developed for ground based demonstration experiments extensively over the past 30 years. Over the past three years, NASA has funded development of the Sabatier Carbon Dioxide Reduction Assembly (CRA) for use on the ISS. Currently this system is at TRL 5 and it is expected that the system will be flown on the ISS as a flight experiment, The purpose of the flight experiment is to integrate the Sabatier CRA into a synchronized system with the oxygen generation system and the carbon dioxide concentrator. The flight experiment will verify the integration of the different systems working together plus it will verify the capability of the system to operate, and effectively separate its products in a micro-gravity environment. Subsequent to design validation, the flight experiment can remain onboard the ISS providing valuable water to offset logistics re-supply requirements. Some of the challenges facing the development of the Sabatier system include handling vibration induced particulates, microgravity phase separation and containment of hazardous gases. Plans for adequately addressing these issues will be presented. The Sabatier carbon dioxide reduction process will greatly benefit any of the extended duration human exploration missions because of the tremendous savings of consumables realized. Any of these mission scenarios, be they transit or surface based, must consider closing the life support loops in order to make the mission achievable, let alone affordable. Carbon dioxide reduction technology will be necessary for future outpost habitats, and the technology needs to be proven viable in a space application. The Sabatier methanation reaction is also a desirable method for producing propellant from the Mars atmosphere. The common system could be designed to accept carbon dioxide from an indoor air revitalization loop concentrator, or from an outdoor atmosphere compressor. Carbon dioxide reduction validation is but one step in the spiral development of the in-situ propellant production system desired for future planetary exploration.
Publication Date: Jan 01, 2005
Document ID:
20050110128
(Acquired Mar 16, 2005)
Subject Category: LUNAR AND PLANETARY SCIENCE AND EXPLORATION
Document Type: Preprint
Meeting Information: Space Exploration Conference; 30 Jan. - 1 Feb. 2005; Orlando, FL; United States
Financial Sponsor: NASA Marshall Space Flight Center; Huntsville, AL, United States
Organization Source: NASA Marshall Space Flight Center; Huntsville, AL, United States
Description: 2p; In English
Distribution Limits: Unclassified; Publicly available; Unlimited
Rights: Copyright
NASA Terms: CARBON DIOXIDE; GRAVITATIONAL EFFECTS; LIFE SUPPORT SYSTEMS; LOGISTICS MANAGEMENT; MARS ATMOSPHERE; METHANATION; OXYGEN; PROPELLANTS; REACTOR TECHNOLOGY; SABATIER REACTION; SPACE EXPLORATION; WATER
Availability Source: Other Sources
Availability Notes: Abstract Only
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