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Journal Article

Development and Testing of a Sorbent-Based Atmosphere Revitalization System 2008/2009

The design and evaluation of a Vacuum-Swing Adsorption (VSA) system to remove metabolic water and metabolic carbon dioxide from a spacecraft atmosphere is presented. The approach for Orion and Altair is a VSA system that removes not only 100 percent of the metabolic CO2 from the atmosphere, but also 100% of the metabolic water as well, a technology approach that has not been used in previous spacecraft life support systems. The design and development of an Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle Sorbent Based Atmosphere Revitalization system, including test articles, a facility test stand, and full-scale testing in late 2008 and early 2009 is discussed.
Technical Paper

Engineered Structured Sorbents for the Adsorption of Carbon Dioxide and Water Vapor from Manned Spacecraft Atmospheres: Applications and Modeling 2007/2008

In NASA's Vision for Space Exploration, humans will once again travel beyond the confines of earth's gravity, this time to remain there for extended periods. These forays will place unprecedented demands on launch systems. They must not only blast out of earth's gravity well as during the Apollo moon missions, but also launch the supplies needed to sustain a larger crew over much longer periods. Thus all spacecraft systems, including those for the separation of metabolic carbon dioxide and water from a crewed vehicle, must be minimized with respect to mass, power, and volume. Emphasis is also placed on system robustness both to minimize replacement parts and ensure crew safety when a quick return to earth is not possible. This paper describes efforts to improve on typical packed beds of sorbent pellets by making use of structured sorbents and alternate bed configurations to improve system efficiency and reliability.
Technical Paper

Performance Characterization of a Temperature-Swing Adsorption Compressor for Closed-Loop Air Revitalization Based on Integrated Tests with Carbon Dioxide Removal and Reduction Assemblies

CO2 removal, recovery and reduction are essential processes for a closed loop air revitalization system in a crewed spacecraft. Typically, a compressor is required to recover the low pressure CO2 that is being removed from the spacecraft in a swing bed adsorption system. This paper describes integrated tests of a Temperature-Swing Adsorption Compressor (TSAC) with high-fidelity systems for carbon dioxide removal and reduction assemblies (CDRA and Sabatier reactor). It also provides details of the TSAC operation at various CO2 loadings. The TSAC is a solid-state compressor that has the capability to remove CO2 from a low-pressure source, and subsequently store, compress, and deliver it at a higher pressure. TSAC utilizes the principle of temperature-swing adsorption compression and has no rapidly moving parts.
Technical Paper

Development of a Low-Power CO2 Removal and Compression System for Closed-Loop Air Revitalization in Future Spacecraft

Continuous removal of carbon dioxide is one of the most critical processes in a spacecraft air revitalization system. Recovery of the waste carbon dioxide and its subsequent conversion to oxygen become essential for long-duration human space missions beyond Low-Earth orbit where re-supply of consumables such as oxygen is neither practical nor economical. The current CO2 removal technology employed in the United States Operating Segment (USOS) of the International Space Station (ISS) operates in an open loop mode where the waste CO2 is vented to space. A compressor is required to facilitate CO2 recovery capabilities. The CO2 removal process itself is one of the most energy-intensive processes in the life support system of the ISS due to the water vapor recovery method involved in the process. This paper discusses the design and development of a low-power CO2 removal system that has capabilities to recover and compress the CO2 for recycling oxygen.
Technical Paper

International Space Station Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly (ISS CDRA) Concepts and Advancements

An important aspect of air revitalization for life support in spacecraft is the removal of carbon dioxide from cabin air. Several types of carbon dioxide removal systems are in use or have been proposed for use in spacecraft life support systems. These systems rely on various removal techniques that employ different architectures and media for scrubbing CO2, such as permeable membranes, liquid amine, adsorbents, and absorbents. Sorbent systems have been used since the first manned missions. The current state of key technology is the existing International Space Station (ISS) Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly (CDRA), a system that selectively removes carbon dioxide from the cabin atmosphere. The CDRA system was launched aboard UF-2 in February 2001 and resides in the U.S. Destiny Laboratory module. During the past four years, the CDRA system has experienced operational limitations.
Technical Paper

Integrated Testing of a 4-Bed Molecular Sieve and a Temperature-Swing Adsorption Compressor for Closed-Loop Air Revitalization

Accumulation and subsequent compression of carbon dioxide that is removed from the space cabin are two important processes involved in a closed-loop air revitalization scheme of the International Space Station (ISS). The 4-Bed Molecular Sieve (4BMS) of ISS currently operates in an open loop mode without a compressor. This paper reports the integrated 4BMS and liquid-cooled Temperature Swing Adsorption Compressor (TSAC) testing conducted during the period of March 3 to April 18, 2003. The TSAC prototype was developed at NASA Ames Research Center (ARC)1. The 4BMS was modified to a functionally flight-like condition at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC)2. Testing was conducted at MSFC. The paper provides details of the TSAC operation at various CO2 loadings and corresponding performance of the 4BMS.
Technical Paper

Experimental and Analytical Investigation of Pressure Differentials for Clean and Loaded Wire Meshes Used in Zeolite Retention

Following a series of anomalies of the carbon dioxide removal assembly (CDRA) on the International Space Station (ISS), a CDRA teardown, test, and evaluation (TT&E) effort found that the sorbent material was not retained as intended by the packed beds and that presence of the sorbent in the check valve and selector valves was the cause of the failure of these components. This paper documents the development of design data for an in-line filter element. The purpose of the in-line filter is to provide temporary protection for on-orbit CDRA hardware until the bed retainment system can be redesigned and replaced.
Technical Paper

International Space Station Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly Testing

Performance testing of the International Space Station Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly flight hardware in the United States Laboratory during 1999 is described. The CDRA exceeded carbon dioxide performance specifications and operated flawlessly. Data from this test is presented.
Technical Paper

Performance Enhancement, Power Reduction, and other Flight Concerns - Testing of the CO2 Removal Assembly for ISS

This paper describes testing of four-bed molecular sieve (4BMS) development hardware in support of future operations of the International Space Station (ISS) Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly (CDRA). During 1998, testing of a MSFC 4BMS included operations with the 4BMS inlet air drawn directly from the cabin atmosphere instead of the baseline air source downstream of a Condensing Heat Exchanger (CHX), operating with high carbon dioxide (CO2) loading, and long duration operation in a power save mode. Additionally, testing with increased coolant water temperature was performed to determine effects on the systems CO2 removal performance.
Technical Paper

Hardware-Independent Mathematical and Numerical Modeling of a Four Bed Molecular Sieve - Part 1: Modeling and Verification of Gas Adsorption on Zeolite 5A

A finite-difference gas adsorption computer model for CO2, H2O, and N2 on zeolite 5A is discussed. It is part of an effort to predict results, via simulation, of changing a spacecraft CO2 removal system's operational configuration. The mathematical and numerical modeling approach, with emphasis on identification and independent verification of important adsorption physics, is described. The apparatus used to obtain single and multicomponent isotherms, and the subscale packed column bench test used to derive transfer coefficients and verify the model are described. The favorable comparison of simulation and test results show the potential for predictive capability with this modeling approach.