Development of Pressure Swing Adsorption Technology for Spacesuit Carbon Dioxide and Humidity Removal 2006-01-2203
Metabolically produced carbon dioxide (CO2) removal in spacesuit applications has traditionally been accomplished utilizing non-regenerative Lithium Hydroxide (LiOH) canisters. In recent years, regenerative Metal Oxide (MetOx) has been developed to replace the Extravehicular Mobility Unity (EMU) LiOH canister for extravehicular activity (EVA) missions in micro-gravity, however, MetOx may carry a significant weight burden for potential use in future Lunar or planetary EVA exploration missions. Additionally, both of these methods of CO2 removal have a finite capacity sized for the particular mission profile. Metabolically produced water vapor removal in spacesuits has historically been accomplished by a condensing heat exchanger within the ventilation process loop of the suit life support system.
Advancements in solid amine technology employed in a pressure swing adsorption system have led to the possibility of combining both the CO2 and humidity control requirements into a single, lightweight device. Because the pressure swing adsorption system is regenerated to space vacuum or by an inert purge stream, the duration of an EVA mission may be extended significantly over currently employed technologies, while markedly reducing the overall subsystem weight compared to the combined weight of the condensing heat exchanger and current regenerative CO2 removal technology. This paper will provide and overview of ongoing development efforts evaluating the subsystem size required to manage anticipated metabolic CO2 and water vapor generation rates in a spacesuit environment.