Solid-Solid Vacuum Regolith Heat-Exchanger for Oxygen Production

Award Information
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Branch: N/A
Contract: NNX09CE77P
Agency Tracking Number: 084719
Amount: $99,604.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2009
Solicitation Year: 2008
Solicitation Topic Code: X3.03
Solicitation Number: N/A
Small Business Information
1141 Catalina Drive, PMB #270, Livermore, CA, 94550-5928
DUNS: 193084980
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Otis Walton
 Principal Investigator
 (925) 447-4293
Business Contact
 Otis Walton
Title: President
Phone: (925) 447-4293
Research Institution
This SBIR Phase-1 project will demonstrate the feasibility of using a novel coaxial counterflow solid-solid heat exchanger to recover heat energy from spent regolith at 1050oC to pre-heat inlet regolith to 750oC, either continuously, or in 20kg batches. In granular solids the area of contacts between 'touching' grains is quite small. Thus, solid-solid conduction often plays only a minor role in heat transfer through granular solids (i.e., 'effective' conduction), and when an interstitial gas is present, heat transfer occurs primarily via conduction through the gas. If the granular solid is also flowing, then solids convection becomes a significant factor in overall heat transfer and effective 'conduction'. Under vacuum conditions, and at temperatures above 700oC, radiation will dominate most heat transfer processes; however, solids convection can also play a very significant secondary role. Utilizing judicious placement of radiation baffles, and a novel counterflow configuration, the approach proposed in this SBIR can accomplish the desired heat transfer between spent and fresh regolith with only one moving mechanical part, by making effective use of both radiative heat transfer and solids convection. Discrete-element simulations of regolith flow will be utilized to refine the concept. Utilization of an existing ~1.4 cubic meter partial-vacuum facility at the University of Florida will facilitate construction of feasibility demonstration prototypes during Phase-1 and/or Phase-2. The Phase-1 project will demonstrate the effectiveness of combining solids convection with radiative heat transfer to rapidly transfer heat from 1050C spent material to heat fresh regolith to 750C under vacuum conditions.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

Agency Micro-sites

SBA logo
Department of Agriculture logo
Department of Commerce logo
Department of Defense logo
Department of Education logo
Department of Energy logo
Department of Health and Human Services logo
Department of Homeland Security logo
Department of Transportation logo
Environmental Protection Agency logo
National Aeronautics and Space Administration logo
National Science Foundation logo
US Flag An Official Website of the United States Government