Resistively-Heated Microlith-Based Adsorber for Carbon Dioxide and Trace Contaminant Removal 2005-01-2866
An integrated sorber-based Trace Contaminant Control System (TCCS) and Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly (CDRA) prototype was designed, fabricated and tested. It corresponds to a 1-person load. Performance over several adsorption/regeneration cycles was examined. Vacuum regenerations at effective time/ temperature conditions, and estimated power requirements were experimentally verified for the combined CO2/trace contaminant removal prototype. The current paper details the design and performance of this prototype during initial testing at CO2 and trace contaminant concentrations in the existing CDRA, downstream of the drier. Additional long-term performance characterization is planned at NASA. Potential system design options permitting associated weight, volume savings and logistic benefits, especially as relevant for long-duration space flight, are reviewed.
The technology consisted of a sorption bed with sorbent-coated metal meshes, trademarked and patented as Microlith by Precision Combustion, Inc. (PCI). By contrast the current CO2 removal system on the International Space Station employs pellet beds. Preliminary bench scale performance data (without direct resistive heating) for simultaneous CO2 and trace contaminant removal was reviewed in SAE 2004-01-2442. In the prototype, the meshes were directly electrically heated for rapid response and accurate temperature control. This allowed regeneration via resistive heating with the potential for shorter regeneration times, reduced power requirement, and net energy savings vs. conventional systems. A novel flow arrangement, for removing both CO2 and trace contaminants within the same bed, was demonstrated. Thus, the need for a separate trace contaminant unit was eliminated resulting in an opportunity for significant weight savings. Unlike the current disposable charcoal bed, zeolites for trace contaminant removal are amenable to periodic regeneration.