NASA Awards ECLSS & Human Health Small Business Contracts

The space station formerly known as the Deep Space Gateway (Credit: NASA)

NASA has selected 10 projects designed to improve life support systems and human health in space for funding under its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.

Nine of the proposals deal with life support and habitation systems with a tenth involves human research and health maintenance. The two-year SBIR Phase II projects are eligible for up to $750,000 in funding.

Improving life support systems are an important area of research as NASA aims at sending astronauts beyond low Earth orbit to the moon and various deep-space destinations.

Below is a list of selected projects followed by their abstracts.

Life Support and Habitation Systems

Air Squared, Inc.
Broomfield, CO
Vapor Compression Refrigeration System for Cold Storage on Spacecrafts

Composites Automation, LLC
Newark, DE
Impact Resistant Composite Structures for Space Suit Applications

Global Technology Connection, Inc.
Atlanta, GA
Operation-Aware ISHM for Environmental Control and Life Support in Deep Space Habitants

Innosense, LLC
Torrance, CA
Micro-Electro-Analytical Sensor for Sensitive, Selective and Rapid Monitoring of Hydrazine in the Presence of Ammonia

Qualtech Systems, Inc.
Rocky Hill, CT
Flexible Integrated System Health Management for Sustainable Habitats using TEAMS

STF Technologies, LLC
Newark, DE
Impact-Resistant, Damage-Tolerant Composites with STF Energy Absorbing Layers

Sustainable Innovations, LLC
East Hartford, CT
Solid State Oxygen Concentrator and Compressor

Tech-X Corporation
Boulder, CO
RSim: A Simulation Tool Integrating Radiation Codes and CAD.

UMPQUA Research Company
Myrtle Creek, OR
Regenerable Carbon Filter

Human Research & Health Maintenance

LignaMed, LLC
Philadelphia, PA
LGM2605 as a Mitigator of Space Radiation-Induced Vascular Damage

PROPOSAL ABSTRACTS

Vapor Compression Refrigeration System for Cold Storage on Spacecrafts
Subtopic: Logistics Reduction

Air Squared, Inc.
Broomfield, CO

Principal Investigator/Project Manager
Kunal Bansal

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 4
End: 6

Technical Abstract

NASA is looking for solutions for its long-term or distance food storage and transport applications. Achieving high thermal efficiencies and reliability while maintaining volumetric and mass efficiency has been the key challenge with these kinds of refrigeration/freezing systems in a microgravity environment. Previous state of the art refrigerator/freezer systems such as the ISS RFR, use thermoelectric thermal control with very low overall system COP of around 0.36 (in freezer mode).

Alternatively, terrestrial cold food storage systems utilize much more efficient vapor compression thermal control systems, making the systems lighter and more compact. Currently, these systems do not have provisions to fulfill the load and reliability requirements of space applications and are also not designed for microgravity operation. An example would be Kelvinator KCCF220QW chest freezer. This freezer can maintain temperatures as low as 26͒C at COPs of around 2.2 to 2.4.

Air Squared is proposing the development of a Zero-gravity Vapor Compression Refrigerator (ZVCR). The ZVCR is an oil-free, scroll driven, vapor compression food storage system that is thermally efficient, lightweight and reliable. Similar to conventional systems, the ZVCR will include four major components: compressor, condenser, expansion device and evaporator.

But, instead of a heavy and oil lubricated working fluid compressor, it will use an advanced oil-free orbiting type scroll compressor and expander developed by Air Squared. Its oil-free design will remove system’s operational reliance on gravity while keeping the design compact & lightweight at higher efficiencies.

For expansion work recovery, a scroll expander based on the same technology as the compressor will be used to further improve the system’s performance. Custom heat exchangers will be designed for efficient operation in microgravity while considering the size, weight and reliability requirements.

Potential NASA Commercial Applications

Via an innovated compact scroll technology, the ZVCR transports the benefits of earth-based refrigeration and thermal control into space for long-term human exploration. Installed on ISS resupply modules, the improved COP, minimized space and weight and maximized reliability designed into the ZVCR would allow for more food and supplies to be stored on NASA missions. The reduced weight and increase payload afforded by the ZVCR would decrease fuel costs and increase mission durations for potential Mars exploration.

In addition to the ZVCR space refrigeration applications, Air Squared can easily modify the system to meet a diverse set of NASA?s efficient thermal control needs. As a waste heat rejection pump, the ZVCR could provide precise thermal control for spacecraft operating at high ambient temperature locations.

A larger ZVCR could efficiently control the livable environment and crew accommodations as an environmental control unit for spacecraft or stations. Regardless of electronic, cabin, or food storage thermal management, a compact, lightweight reliable, and efficient ZVCR could increase the efficiency of NASA operations.

Potential Non-NASA Commercial Applications

With a compact duet scroll compressor and expander design, the reliable and efficient ZVCR is poised to impact the aerospace and aviation thermal control market. The oil-free nature of the proposed ZVCR reduces the need for oil separation and componentry within thermal systems that demand reduced size and weight in low and zero gravity environments.

Implemented on board military aircraft, the ZVCR would provide excellent waste heat rejection and thermal systems control of precise atmospheric temperatures and cabin pressurization. Due to the efficient vapor compression refrigeration, the ZVCR could increase storage life, capacity, and low temperature cooling as an active container system for aviation cold transportation of food and medical supplies.

The ZVCR would not rely on dry ice for refrigeration, allowing additional logistical flexibility in the event of delayed flight schedules. Reliable and efficient oil-free cooling and heating systems have substantial potential for both terrestrial and aerospace applications.

Technology Taxonomy Mapping

  • Active Systems
  • Food (Preservation, Packaging, Preparation)

Impact Resistant Composite Structures for Space Suit Applications
Subtopic: Damage Tolerant Lightweight Pressure Structures

Composites Automation, LLC
Newark, DE

Principal Investigator/Project Manager
Roger Crane

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 3
End: 6

Technical Abstract

Composites Automation (CA) proposes to collaborate with the University of Delaware Center for Composite Materials (UD-CCM) and our industry transition partner ILC Dover, to develop innovative material and structure concepts for next generation Space Suit hard composite components.

The SBIR goals are develop material systems that survive an impact of 300 J at <0.125” thickness and <1.7 g/cc density with no leaks. Phase I demonstrated a material solution that met these requirements and the ability to balance impact and structural performance with composite design.

Phase II will study additional material choices, develop and optimize composite architectures, and demonstrate impact, structure and joint/interface performance. A complete material specification including material composition, process methods and properties will be developed for the optimized solution(s) for use in product design.

Phase II will culminate in the design, analysis and manufacture of a full-scale Hatch, based on NASA requirements, with the optimized composite material solutions.

Potential NASA Commercial Applications

Increasing damage tolerance of lightweight composite structures to impact loads while maintaining leak resistance under pressure is a key performance metric for space suit hard composite components. Aerospace and satellite structures are also driven by damage tolerant design criteria and proposed concepts may enable higher design allowables and lighter weight solutions. Proposed goals will improve performance 4X the current Z2 composite design and enable lighterweight and more robust and leak resistant composite component designs.

NASA has recently developed the Z2 space suit but has interest in improving the robustness required for exploration of a planetary surface. The desired improvements will allow for reduced maintenance and provide simple and robust interfaces with the portable life support system. This can potentially also be used for the International Space Station Extravehicular Mobility Unit.

Potential Non-NASA Commercial Applications

Damage tolerant composite structures are used in many applications, including aerospace, automotive and marine composites, and military platforms. Post-impact mechanical performance drives composite design in these applications, such as Compression after Impact or Open-hole Tension/Compression.

Mechanical fastening and joining is also common in many of these applications and resistance to damage propagation at fastener holes promotes long-term durability. Concepts/strategies that increase durability, and post-impact performance while retaining lightweight characteristics are of wide-ranging interest in the composites industry.

The proposed full-component Hatch demonstrator will address all these challenges and serve as an technology maturation example for all these markets.

Technology Taxonomy Mapping

  • Air Transportation & Safety
  • Composites
  • Pressure & Vacuum Systems
  • Protective Clothing/Space Suits/Breathing Apparatus
  • Smart/Multifunctional Materials
  • Structures
  • Tools/EVA Tools

Operation-Aware ISHM for Environmental Control and Life Support in Deep Space Habitants
Subtopic: Integrated System Health Management for Sustainable Habitats

Global Technology Connection, Inc.
Atlanta, GA

Principal Investigator/Project Manager
Dr. Ash Thakker

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 4
End: 6

Technical Abstract

A life support systems’ reliability and survivability are critical to NASA especially in long-term space exploration missions. The Health Management of life support systems consists of several components among which power, water recovery, and biomass processing systems etc. which are of primary importance. Due to the crew’s critical dependence on such a complex system, the health management of life support systems becomes crucial to NASA’s mission success rates.

In Phase I, we focus on the WRS system for proof-of-concept of ACM system. In Phase II, the work will be expanded to full scale LSS, including WRS, oxygen, food generation, waste processing, air revitalization, biomass production, etc. This will yield a system model which involves mechanical, electrical, hydraulic, chemical and biological components.

We will also leverage existing models, such as BioSim, HabNet, V-HAB. With the LSS model, we will fully mature and develop the ACM system, which integrates data driven modeling, sensor/component failure isolation, hierarchical ACM system, and dynamic case-based reasoning.

Potential NASA Commercial Applications

The proposed effort has significant range of applications across various NASA multi-disciplinary engineering centers. Quantifying ISHM/FM in terms of standard and recognized metrics has been proven in practice in the Space Launch System, managed by Marshall Space Flight Center.

Likewise, other immediate applications of this technology can be used in the operations and launch facilities at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Other potential applications include Glenn Research Center, Ames Research Center, and Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

NASA must address the long communication delays between Mars and Earth, as well as increasingly more complex systems associated with resilient autonomous spaceflight systems. These systems should be automated, monitored and diagnosed by mission control like any other near-earth mission.

The proposed capability will add to the existing portfolio of PHM/SHM by addressing the need for an integrated system capable of considering the mission requirements and potentials for advancement of science in a case-by-case basis.

NASA would highly benefit from proposed systems by:

  1. Concurrently predicting failures before they disrupt the mission or habitant’s safety.
  2. Reducing false positives of such prediction and enabling a human-interaction with an intelligent reasoning engine
  3. Identifying the remaining useful capability of the system.

Potential Non-NASA Commercial Applications

Among other agencies, DoD, US Air Force, US Navy, and commercial aviation (e.g., SpaceX, Bieglow Space) are the most likely potential customers for the resulting technologies.

In addition, smart home applications or intelligent hospital and patient-care systems can be of secondary application space.

This technology would also be useful for disaster planning, e.g. Federal Emergency Management Agency, fire planning, and urban design. Applications such as air traffic control, missile guidance system, space, and range instrument radar systems, etc. also will be pursued by GTC commercialization team.

From a commercial perspective, emergency response services, where remote users must quickly share information and collaborate to save lives, a means to instrument that network to assess efficiency and operation would be attractive.

The technology developed under this SBIR will also be interest to any organization working on design for resilience (Terminals, highway planning, drug distribution, supply chain planning) interested in validating the effectiveness of different solutions with a focus on quick and effective decisions. Our intent is to pursue an aggressive productization and commercialization strategy to bring the technology into market place.

Technology Taxonomy Mapping

  • Autonomous Control (see also Control & Monitoring)
  • Condition Monitoring (see also Sensors)
  • Data Fusion
  • Data Modeling (see also Testing & Evaluation)
  • Diagnostics/Prognostics
  • Health Monitoring & Sensing (see also Sensors)
  • Models & Simulations (see also Testing & Evaluation)
  • Process Monitoring & Control
  • Recovery (see also Autonomous Systems)
  • Space Transportation & Safety

Micro-Electro-Analytical Sensor for Sensitive, Selective and Rapid Monitoring of Hydrazine in the Presence of Ammonia
Subtopic: Environmental Monitoring for Spacecraft Cabins

Innosense, LLC
Torrance, CA

Principal Investigator/Project Manager
Dr. Maksudul Alam

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 4
End: 6

Technical Abstract

Hydrazine, a volatile and flammable colorless liquid, is classified as a carcinogen by the US Environmental Protection Agency. It can cause chromosome aberrations negatively affecting the lungs, liver, spleen, thyroid gland, and central nervous system.

NASA’s existing hydrazine measurement technology is sensitive, selective and reliable, but it takes 15 minutes to collect and analyze a sample. For future missions beyond Low Earth Orbit, NASA will need a measurement system that responds within 30 seconds without any performance limitations such as lack of specificity and maintenance challenges.

To fulfill NASA needs, InnoSense LLC (ISL) will continue developing a space-worthy micro-electro-analytical sensor for rapid monitoring of hydrazine (Micro-Zin™) in the presence of ammonia in spacecraft cabin atmosphere (SCA) for long-term performance without maintenance.

In Phase I, ISL developed a compact Micro-Zin working model and demonstrated its performance detecting hydrazine with high sensitivity and selectivity over ammonia, fast response time (T90 >30 seconds), reversibility, cyclability and reproducibility under NASA-required SCA conditions, meeting or exceeding performance targets.

In Phase II, ISL will focus on optimization and scale-up of Micro-Zin following fine-tuning of performance and analyzing life expectancy by rigorous testing. Complex modeling, package design, and construction of a Micro-Zin prototype for SCA-level testing are also planned. At the end of Phase II, a compact, battery-operated, handheld Micro-Zin prototype will be delivered to NASA for further evaluation.

Potential NASA Commercial Applications

Micro-Zin is designed for rapid monitoring of hydrazine for measurements of spacecraft cabin atmosphere to identify and minimize the risks to crew health during exploration-class missions beyond low-Earth orbit (LEO).

Micro-Zin will offer sensitive, selective and reliable detection of hydrazine with quick response time (T90 ≤30 seconds) in the presence of confounding background ammonia gas (30X or more than hydrazine levels) in spacecraft cabin atmosphere.

Micro-Zin will be compact (device volume ~480 cubic centimeters) and lightweight to comply with mass and volume constraints. One or more of these miniature Micro-Zins can be placed within the crew cabin, thereby supporting crew health and well-being for future space missions.

Potential Non-NASA Commercial Applications

Micro-Zin will find applications in the commercial space industry (including Lockheed Martin Company, UTC Aerospace Systems, SpaceX, Blue Origin and Orbital ATK), missile defense, the toxic chemical process control industries, environmental/EPA regulatory compliance and biomedical sensor areas.

Micro-Zin is an adaptable platform and it can be modified to address point-of care diagnostics. A modification of the sensing element will allow development of highly sensitive and selective biosensors for monitoring disease biomarkers, making the medical market the largest transition opportunity. This market demands high performance, low life-cycle cost and low-power consumption. The global nanomedicine market was $212B in 2015 and could reach $1.3T by 2025.

Technology Taxonomy Mapping

  • Autonomous Control (see also Control & Monitoring)
  • Chemical/Environmental (see also Biological Health/Life Support)
  • Health Monitoring & Sensing (see also Sensors)
  • Space Transportation & Safety
  • Spacecraft Design, Construction, Testing, & Performance (see also Engineering; Testing & Evaluation)
  • Spacecraft Instrumentation & Astrionics (see also Communications; Control & Monitoring; Information Systems)

Flexible Integrated System Health Management for Sustainable Habitats using TEAMS
Subtopic: Integrated System Health Management for Sustainable Habitats

Qualtech Systems, Inc.
Rocky Hill, CT

Principal Investigator/Project Manager
Deepak Haste

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 4
End: 6

Technical Abstract

QSI proposes to field a “Flexible” ISHM Solution for Sustainable Habitats utilizing the TEAMS Toolset and concomitant model-based and data-driven diagnostic/prognostic reasoning technologies to enable the habitat crew and ground support personnel to obtain crucial alerts that affect the operation of critical habitat subsystems. Automated health assessment, crew alerts and future degradation estimates will be generated to facilitate corrective actions in the face of off-nominal and failure conditions.

The ISHM solution would reduce the cognitive load on the crew given the abundance of information that has to be reasoned upon in a timely fashion. This will be critical for improving mission and system safety.

The solution will utilize habitat’s real-time system health assessment, anomaly and failure detection, machine learning and active learning techniques to provide clear and concise decision support to improve situational awareness and perform proactive corrective actions. The solution provides the ability to report and incorporate previously undiscovered anomalies through a visually intuitive active learning interface.

QSI’s Hybrid modeling concept leverages domain information from various knowledge sources such as SysML, VISIO, etc. to augment its data-driven models with system-level interdependencies, which provide critical insight into the system when new anomalies need to be identified by the human-in-the-loop.

Additionally, the TEAMS framework will enable integration of third-party Machine Learning modules to leverage best-in-class anomaly detection techniques for an integrated solution. These technologies would reduce the cost and risk of habitat operations, across all its phases: development, flight unit production, launch, and operations.

Potential NASA Commercial Applications

The proposed ISHM solution, aimed at improving the reliability and performance of sustainable habitats through the use of diagnostic and prognostic failure and anomaly detection techniques, active learning and trending capabilities, will allow NASA to better plan and execute future Science Missions.

The technology can be leveraged to facilitate endurance in complex systems, such as NASA’s long-duration missions in space science and exploration. It is envisioned that the technology will also be ready to be operated as part of NASA’s next generation Mission Control Technology allowing NASA to utilize the continuous health assessment and mission satisfiability information from the tool for improved mission execution while improving safety, mission success probability and the overall operational uptime of the habitat platform.

This technology can also be applied to NASA’s Earth based green initiatives such as the Sustainable Habitat. The Grey Water Recycling System (GWRS) at the Sustainability-Base at NASA, ARC could be an ideal insertion point for the ISHM solution.

Various other systems, besides the GWRS, are also ideal candidates for the application of the ISHM technology, including the Hot Water Pump System; HVAC: Heating and cooling system; Air Life Support System; Photo-voltaic arrays; Facility Equipment and Environmental sensors: temperature sensors, humidity sensors, differential pressure sensors, airflow sensors, carbon dioxide monitors, oxygen monitors, etc.

Potential Non-NASA Commercial Applications

The application of habitats in government, industrial, and commercial applications makes them an obvious commercialization target for this technology. We envisage the proposed technology to be of significant interest inside DoD’s Forward Operating Bases (FOBs), FAA, US Air Force, US Navy, and commercial space vendors (e.g., Boeing, SpaceX).

The development of the various interacting technology components for health-monitoring enabled anomaly/failure and degradation detection can be easily directed towards mission assurance and will be of direct interest to large-scale military systems (systems of systems) such as NORAD, Space Command ground segments, the Navy shipboard platforms and Submarine Commands.

In addition, offshore platform industry, greenhouse industry, bio-domes, nuclear shelters, and extreme weather research stations are potential targets as well. Other examples of use of this technology include manufacturing, transportation (air transport, self-driving vehicles, and electric cars), energy (smart grids), space (on-orbit inspection and repair, mining), agriculture, healthcare (prosthetics, rehabilitation, surgery), marine environments, education (inspiring science, technology, engineering and mathematics education), public safety (emergency response, hazardous material handling, bomb disposal), and consumer products (household robots). This solution can also be marketed to commercial habitat operators and maintainers.

Technology Taxonomy Mapping

  • Air Transportation & Safety
  • Analytical Methods
  • Condition Monitoring (see also Sensors)
  • Data Acquisition (see also Sensors)
  • Data Processing
  • Diagnostics/Prognostics
  • Health Monitoring & Sensing (see also Sensors)
  • Knowledge Management
  • Models & Simulations (see also Testing & Evaluation)
  • Simulation & Modeling

Impact-Resistant, Damage-Tolerant Composites with STF Energy Absorbing Layers
Subtopic: Damage Tolerant Lightweight Pressure Structures

STF Technologies, LLC
Newark, DE

Principal Investigator/Project Manager
Dr. Richard Dombrowski

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 3
End: 5

Technical Abstract

We propose an innovative hybrid composite material containing shear thickening fluid (STF) Energy Absorbing Layers (SEALs) that provides superior impact protection and novel, self-healing functionality to prevent leakage after impact. The proposed innovation directly addresses the need for thin, lightweight, impact-resistant composite materials that can be fabricated in complex geometries for next-generation space suits.

The proposed Phase II research leverages successful Phase I R&D and extensive composite materials and space suit expertise of our partners to advance commercialization and TRL of impact-resistant, damage-tolerant SEAL-composites innovation to produce a prototype suit component suitable for system-level integration and testing.

In Phase I it was shown that the SEAL-composites provide significantly improved impact properties and weight savings vs. leading conventional composite materials from the Z-2 prototype. Futhermore, SEAL-composites impart self-healing functionality to mitigate air leakage if damaged.

The Phase II objectives and work plan follow a logical sequence to test and downselect improved SEAL-composite materials, to develop and validate a computational model and conduct model-based design optimization, to develop high-fidelity test methods, to refine the manufacturing process to make aerospace-grade SEAL-composites, and to deliver a validated suit prototype component made from SEAL-composites.

Further, we will leverage synergistic environmental protection garment (EPG) research being conducted at STF Technologies and the University of Delaware to perform system-level development and optimization of the SEAL-composites combined with emerging, state-of-the-art EPGs.

Overall, the proposed Phase II will produce a validated SEAL-composite prototype suit component meeting the needs for improved impact-resistance and damage-tolerance to offer superior astronaut protection in a wide range of future Martian and Lunar surface EVA scenarios.

Potential NASA Commercial Applications

The primary target market for the proposed SEAL-composites innovation is in the composite portions of advanced xEMU and mEMU suits for future surface exploration missions. Specifically, the hybrid materials and design of the SEAL-composites provide significant increases in impact-resistance and damage-tolerance as compared to conventional composite materials.

Phase I results found that the SEAL-composites tolerate 50% more impact energy without sustaining damage resulting in leakage and were 11% lighter than monolithic designs using the materials developed in the prior Z-2 prototype project.

The improved durability and self-healing functionality at reduced weight of the SEAL-composites is useful for increasing the reliability of other composite structures and applications including storage tanks, habitats, or surface exploration vehicle components.

Potential Non-NASA Commercial Applications

The growing market for carbon fiber and fiberglass composites represents a substantial market opportunity for STF composite materials offering improved impact resistance and damage tolerance.

Improvement of out-of-plane impact resistance can potentially improve the durability and utility of composite materials in a wide variety of applications and industries including:

1. Automotive – an all composite B-pillar was recently demonstrated by researchers at UD CCM under a collaboration with BMW. Carbon fiber composites are also seeing increased demand in automotive due to the desire for increased fuel economy and growing demand for electric vehicles.

2. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including composite armor and shielding for first responders

3. Storage tanks for water, chemical process, oil and gas industries

4. Aerospace

5. Consumer sporting goods – skis, snowboards, surfboards, bicycle frames, tennis rackets, hockey and lacrosse sticks, helmets, and protective equipment

6. Power generation – increasing demand for wind turbine blades is major driver of growth in the fiberglass and carbon fiber reinforced composite market. Composite materials with damage tolerance and tunable damping properties have applications in large- and small-scale generation infrastructure.

7. Construction and building materials – building cladding, decking

8. Marine

Technology Taxonomy Mapping

  • Characterization
  • Composites
  • Destructive Testing
  • Models & Simulations (see also Testing & Evaluation)
  • Nanomaterials
  • Nondestructive Evaluation (NDE; NDT)
  • Processing Methods
  • Protective Clothing/Space Suits/Breathing Apparatus
  • Smart/Multifunctional Materials
  • Textiles

Solid State Oxygen Concentrator and Compressor
Subtopic: Environmental Control and Life Support

Sustainable Innovations, LLC
East Hartford, CT

Principal Investigator/Project Manager
Dr. Trent Molter

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 3
End: 5

Technical Abstract

Sustainable Innovations has developed a novel solid state technology for gas separation and is applying it for the first time to meet a critical life support function: to develop an oxygen concentration module that minimize the hardware mass, volume, and power footprint while still performing at the required NASA capabilities.

The Sustainable Innovations Oxygen Concentration Module is an extension of our proven H2 concentration, generation and compression technology that we are currently developing for NASA applications, including several configurations specifically designed for operation in Zero Gravity.

This cell hardware has been demonstrated in mock zero and negative gravity on the bench-top and is currently being scaled for greater throughput applications.

Potential NASA Commercial Applications

Sustainable Innovations Solid State Oxygen Concentrator and Compressor will concentrate the oxygen within the cabin environment and provide the required concentration of oxygen to the crew members. Sustainable Innovations’ electrochemical cell technology will separate pure oxygen from dilute, mixed gas streams.

In addition, the Solid State Oxygen Concentrator and Compressor system has the potential to replenish the secondary oxygen pack (SOP) used by astronauts during extravehicular activity (EVAs) should the primary and backup systems fail.

The SOP only contains 1.2 kilograms of oxygen, enough to sustain an astronaut for approximately thirty minutes. By replenishing the SOP with recycled oxygen, Sustainable Innovations’electrochemical cell design could give astronauts on EVAs additional time to reach the airlock of their orbiter.​

Potential Non-NASA Commercial Applications

Other applications of oxygen capture and compression technology include military, commercial aviation and medical uses.

Military – The U.S. Department of Defense may be interested in the development of this technology for military operations as an aircraft on board oxygen generation system, capable of providing breathing oxygen for the crew.

Commercial Aircraft- Sustainable Innovations’ Solid State Oxygen Concentrator has the potential to become a cost efficient platform for the onboard generation of oxygen in commercial aircraft. The system will be capable of recycling breathing oxygen from the on board atmosphere and providing supplemental oxygen for passengers during emergency descent.

Medical Oxygen – Current medical oxygen markets are moving to become less reliant on bulky, stationary oxygen concentrator systems. Sustainable Innovations’ Solid State Oxygen Concentrator will serve as a low cost, efficient, and portable oxygen generation system for use in medical practices and private homes

Technology Taxonomy Mapping

  • Essential Life Resources (Oxygen, Water, Nutrients)
  • Medical
  • Protective Clothing/Space Suits/Breathing Apparatus

RSim: A Simulation Tool Integrating Radiation Codes and CAD
Subtopic: Radiation Shielding Technologies for Human Protection

Tech-X Corporation
Boulder, CO

Principal Investigator/Project Manager
Svetlana Shasharina

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 3
End: 6

Technical Abstract

Tech-X will develop a standalone cross-platform application RSim. This application will have a Graphical User Interface (GUI) for performing common radiation transport simulations. Without the need to write code in C++ or Fortran and inputs for models, users of RSim will be able to set up the radiation environment, geometry and materials of the analyzed system, choose the analysis type (tallies), run simulations and perform visualization of the simulation results. RSim will be use two simulation engines: Geant4 and MCNP6. RSim will be integrated with the Computer Aided Design (CAD) by supporting CAD data import and translating it into the format understood by the underlying codes.

In addition to providing the traditional geometry support used in these code, we will also implement the DAGMC technology under development at the University of Wisconsin-Madison that would allow us to improve simulations performance.

RSim will provide a unique innovative combination of features: (1) validated support for CAD needed for integration with CAD tools, (2) a cross-platform standalone GUI application working with two radiation codes, Geant4 and MCNP6 and (3) unified visualization of setups and simulations outputs.

Potential NASA Commercial Applications

NASA Manned Exploration Missions will benefit from the proposed development, as RSim will streamline design of shielding strategies. Examples of such programs are International Space Station, Orion Spacecraft system, and NASA Commercial Crew Program.

Second area of applications with NASA is Space Radiation Detector Simulation. For example, SUDA (SUrface Dust Analyzer) is an instrument under development at the Laboratory of Atmospheric and Space Physics, CU, Boulder. SUDA is approved for the upcoming Europa mission, and Tech-X is performing Geant4-based radiation modeling for the SUDA detector (see Sec. 2.3). In fact, working on this project provided us with the motivation for RSim.

Other NASA design activities face the same challenges in their modeling. For example, we are in communication with JPL engineers, who routinely perform comparisons between different radiation models.

Potential Non-NASA Commercial Applications

Radiation analysis for defense satellites (DOD)

Designers developing defense satellites faces the same challenges as designers of commercial satellites. That is, one needs to minimize radiation effects on electronics and the payload. These challenges can be directly addressed by RSim.

National Laboratories

RSim will be used in detector modeling simulations routinely performed at FNAL, ANL, SLAC, BNL, SNL and ORNL.

Some of these laboratories (SNL, for example) design and launch satellites, and Tech-X has worked on radiation modeling for one their payloads. They were particularly interested in comparing results from Geant4 to their independent studies (using ITS) and will benefit from RSim, as it will facilitate such comparisons between different Monte Carlo codes.

Radiation Therapy

Modern cancer treatment uses radiation transport simulations to help radiotherapists and clinical physicists better understand and compute radiation dose from imaging devices and design new devices. RSim will allow physicians to perform comparison between models and do this very efficiently.

Global radiation detection, monitoring and safety industry Radiation transport simulations are routinely use to design new radiation detection devices are designed and analyze their data. RSim will facilitate these activities.

Technology Taxonomy Mapping

  • Ionizing Radiation
  • Isolation/Protection/Radiation Shielding (see also Mechanical Systems)
  • Isolation/Protection/Shielding (Acoustic, Ballistic, Dust, Radiation, Thermal)
  • Simulation & Modeling
  • Verification/Validation Tools

Regenerable Carbon Filter
Subtopic: Environmental Control and Life Support

UMPQUA Research Company
Myrtle Creek, OR

Principal Investigator/Project Manager
Mr. John T Holtsnider

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 3
End: 5

Technical Abstract

A Regenerable Carbon Filter (RCF) is proposed for the removal of carbonaceous particulate matter produced in Environmental Control and Life Support (ECLS) processes. Successful development of this technology will result in a device that effectively collects ultrafine carbon particles in a high density, high storage capacity volume which is subsequently regenerated in-situ using self-cleaning techniques.

Various reactors considered for use in air revitalization in NASA’s exploration life support closed habitat mission concepts result in the generation of solid carbon compounds as byproducts. These include the Carbon Formation Reactor (CFR) within a Bosch-type carbon dioxide reduction system and, what the proposed RCF technology specifically addresses, the methane Plasma Pyrolysis Assembly (PPA) within a Sabatier-type carbon dioxide reduction system.

Capture and oxidation of this carbon material in a manner that eliminates crew handling while maximizing equipment operating capacity and lifetime is of paramount importance within manned space habitats that rely upon these processes.

Potential NASA Commercial Applications

The NASA application will be as Flight Hardware for deployment in support of future manned missions. Regenerable filtration of carbonaceous particulates from gas steams produced within closed habitation ECLS system hardware is needed to maximize equipment operating capacities and extend mission timelines. Ideally the fully developed technology will be acquired as Flight Hardware by NASA, resulting in enhanced capability during crewed deep space exploration.

Potential Non-NASA Commercial Applications

Gas filtration is an important step in many industrial processes and as such the proposed RCF technology may find application in such instances where low residual carbon is produced as a problematic byproduct requiring removal. In addition, completely analogous to NASA’s application, is the employment of an RCF aboard commercial crewed space platforms.

Technology Taxonomy Mapping

  • Essential Life Resources (Oxygen, Water, Nutrients)

Human Research & Health Maintenance

LGM2605 as a Mitigator of Space Radiation-Induced Vascular Damage
Subtopic: Radioprotectors and Mitigators of Space Radiation-induced Health Risks

LignaMed, LLC
Philadelphia, PA

Principal Investigator/Project Manager
Dr. Thais M Sielecki-Dzurdz

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 2
End: 3

Technical Abstract

LignaMed, LLC is developing LGM2605, an oral small molecule for use as a radiation mitigating agent. Here we aim to evaluate LGM2605 as a mitigator of space-radiation induced damage.

NASA missions to Mars will expose astronauts to solar/galactic cosmic mixed radiation including low dose g and proton radiation, a source of harmful short and long-term health effects. Damage to the vascular network under mixed radiation types is not understood.

Findings from our NASA-funded Phase I studies provided novel evidence that LGM2605 is an effective mitigator of radiation toxicity in cells exposed to mixed-field space-relevant radiation (high LET protons and gamma rays).

In this application, LignaMed in collaboration with the researchers at the University of Pennsylvania will extend these initial studies to evaluate LGM2605 in an in vivo model for protection from radiation-induced i) carcinogenesis in lung, liver and all major organs (Task 1) and accelerated lethality as a secondary endpoint and ii) tissue degeneration (Task 2) by evaluating long term lung deterioration and long-term damage mixed gender adult mice.

We hypothesize that mixed space radiation increases cancer risk and induces chronic, pro-inflammatory changes in tissues leading to accelerated degeneration of the cardiovascular and pulmonary system. We propose that LGM2605 will mitigate space radiation-induced carcinogenesis and tissue degeneration.

Potential NASA Commercial Applications

LignaMed, LLC is developing LGM2605, a safe oral small molecule for use as a radiation mitigating agent. Here we aim to evaluate LGM2605 as a mitigator of space-radiation induced damage.

The future space explorations of NASA in the form of manned missions to Mars will expose astronauts to solar and galactic cosmic radiation (GCR), which ranges from high energy protons to high charge and energy (HZE) particles and secondary neutrons produced by galactic cosmic rays (GCR). Such a mixed radiation environment does not exist on earth and is unique to space.

Thus there is a lack of data defining the biological and physiological effects during and following exposure to such mixed-field space radiation exposure. This work will help understand the effects of GCR on cell signaling and demonstrate the protective effects of LGM2605 to prevent this long-term damage. Ultimately, LGM2605 will be developed for use by astronauts during space travel.

Potential Non-NASA Commercial Applications

Lignamed LLC is a biopharmaceutical company developing LGM-2605 as adjunct therapy to reduce side effects and improve cure rates of radiation treatment of chest cancers. The market size is $5 billion.

Chest cancers are a deadly and costly disease. They include breast cancer, lung cancer, sarcomas, lymphomas and esophageal cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, more than 500,000 new chest cancer cases will be diagnosed in the United States in 2014 and they project the number to increase in the years ahead.

About 50 to 60 percent of cancer patients are treated with radiation at some time during their disease. Combinations of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatments are the standard for modern cancer therapy. Success is often determined by the ability of patients to tolerate the most aggressive regimen.

The ability to deliver effective radiation therapy is limited by toxic side effects to healthy normal lung tissues. These side effects often cause breaks in treatment or dose-limiting toxicity after treatment, and, therefore, limit the amount of radiation that can be delivered to the tumor.

No current therapies are effective to protect healthy normal lung tissue from the damaging effects of radiotherapy. A significant unmet need exists for a safe radioprotection agent that will ameliorate radiation side effects to normal tissue without “protecting” the tumor. The US market opportunity is estimated at $5 billion per year.

Technology Taxonomy Mapping

  • Isolation/Protection/Radiation Shielding (see also Mechanical Systems)
  • Medical

  • P.K. Sink

    Go NASA!

  • windbourne

    I would love to see a company work on developing a shower for the space crews. Sky lab had one, but it had a lot of issues. With a bit of redesign, it should be possible to improve a shower for the crew.