High Efficiency, Microchannel Reactors For ISRU Applications

Period of Performance: 01/01/2001 - 12/31/2001


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Makel Engineering, Inc.
1585 Marauder St. Array
Chico, CA 95973
Principal Investigator


This project is to develop miniature, solid-state, chemical reactors using advanced Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS) and microchannel technology to support in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) of Mars and lunar missions. Successful ISRU will require component technologies which provide optimal size, weight, volume, and power efficiency. This project is adapting fundamental MEMS and microchannel fabrication technologies developed at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) to key chemical reaction processes common to most proposed ISRU schemes, namely, the conversion of water to hydrogen and oxygen and the reduction of carbon oxides. This project also seeks to use microchannel and MEMS technologies as means of achieving integration of system components, such as filters, valves and instrumentation, with key chemical processing steps, such as reaction bed, product separation and thermal management systems. The goal of the program is to develop technology which addresses NASA's needs for missions, such as the Mars Sample Return Mission and propellant production for the Mars Accent Vehicle. This Phase I program will develop a prototype integrated miniature ISRU system for the production of methane, oxygen, and other useful chemicals from carbon dioxide and hydrogen.