Development of a Robust, Highly Efficient Oxygen-Carbon Monoxide Cogeneration System

Period of Performance: 01/01/2012 - 12/31/2012

$750K

Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Materials & Systems Research, Inc.
5395 West 700 South Array
Salt Lake City, UT 84104
Principal Investigator
Firm POC

Abstract

This small business innovation research is intended to develop a long-life, highly efficient O2-CO cogeneration system to support NASA's endeavors to pursue extraterrestrial exploration (Moon, Mars, and Asteroids/Phobos). The cogeneration system will be built using a Tubular, Negative Electrode-supported Solid-Oxide Electrolysis Cell (Tune-SOEC) employing MSRI's most promising degradation-resistant ceramic materials and a unique cell design. The system will be capable of co-generating breathable oxygen and CO fuel directly from carbon dioxide extracted from the Martian atmosphere, lunar regolith/soil, or from the cabin air of extraterrestrial human missions at 800¿C. In Phase I, CO2 electrolysis degradation mechanisms were investigated via nonequilibrium thermodynamic analyses and tests of Tune-SOECs with special embedded reference electrodes. Unique solutions for long-term, high performance CO2 electrolysis will be developed and implemented. In Phase II, a prototype O2-CO cogeneration system using the Tune-SOEC technology will be developed. A proof-of-concept system will be demonstrated for cogenerating O2-CO directly from a CO2 source at pressures ranging from 1 atmosphere to 50 atmosphere at 800¿C; showing the capability of using ISRU to generate 1 kg oxygen daily (enough to support 1 human).