Recent Regenerative ECLSS Technology Developments in Europe 921332
Presently, Europe is faced with the task of implementing the Columbus Space Program. In a stepwise approach the Columbus Initial Orbital Configuration will involve eventually into a European (permanently) Manned Space Infrastructure. Towards this goal, various technological challenges arise for the Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS). Some of these have already been identified and are subject of initial investigations.
To regain oxygen from the metabolic process, a physico-chemical chain of CO2-concentration, CO2-cracking and water electrolysis is under development. The present status of the preliminary breadboarding, composed of a steam desorbed solid amine concentrator and a Sabatier reactor will be discussed.
The third item in this chain, the electrolyser, is not yet implemented in this breadboarding but is under test, demonstrating the technology for regenerative fuel cell application. Preliminary results of the test campaign in spring 1992 on a five cell fixed alkaline electrolyser will be reported.
Very recently, regenerative CO2-control in open loop mode has been raised as an issue. Vaccum desorbed solid amine has been tested, showing similar performance as the steam desorbed one. Possible application in HERMES and COLUMBUS will be addressed and necessary development work outlined.
Finally, an overview will be presented on CO2 -control spin-offs from space to subsea applications.