Microlith Based Sorber for Removal of Environmental Contaminants 2004-01-2442
The development of energy efficient, lightweight sorption systems for removal of environmental contaminants in space flight applications is an area of continuing interest to NASA. The current CO2 removal system on the International Space Station employs two pellet bed canisters of 5A molecular sieve that alternate between regeneration and sorption. A separate disposable charcoal bed removes trace contaminants.
An alternative technology has been demonstrated using a sorption bed consisting of metal meshes coated with a sorbent, trademarked and patented  as Microlith® by Precision Combustion, Inc. (PCI); these meshes have the potential for direct electrical heating for this application. This allows the bed to be regenerable via resistive heating and offers the potential for shorter regeneration times, reduced power requirement, and net energy savings vs. conventional systems. The capability of removing both CO2 and trace contaminants within the same bed has also been demonstrated. Thus, the need for a separate trace contaminant unit is eliminated resulting in an opportunity for significant weight savings. Unlike the charcoal bed, zeolites for trace contaminant removal are amenable to periodic regeneration. This paper describes the design and performance of a prototype sorber device for simultaneous CO2 and trace contaminant removal and its attendant weight and energy savings.