A Real-time Sensor for Hydrogen Cyanide in Spacecraft Atmospheres

Award Information
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Branch: N/A
Contract: N/A
Agency Tracking Number: NASA891
Amount: $70,000.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2001
Solicitation Year: N/A
Solicitation Topic Code: N/A
Solicitation Number: N/A
Small Business Information
Southwest Sciences, Inc.
1570 Pacheco Street, Suite E-11, Santa Fe, NM, 87505
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 David Bomse
 Principal Research Scientist
 (505) 984-1322
Business Contact
 Dr. Alan Stanton
Title: President
Phone: (505) 984-1322
Email: astanton@swsciences.com
Research Institution
A need exists for continuous monitoring of hydrogen cyanide (HCN) in spacecraft/habitat air. HCN, a highly toxic gas generated by burning or smoldering plastics, can provide early warning of spacecraft fires. NASA has established a Spacecraft Maximum Allowable Concentration (SMAC) of 1 ppm for manned missions exceeding one week. Useful space-borne instruments must satisfy stringent requirements unique to manned missions in space: low power draw, low weight, fully automated operation, self-calibrating, self-checking, and long term, maintenance free operation. The sensors also require an exceptional combination of sensitivity and selectivity: a 1 ppm alarm point requires a detection sensitivity of 100 parts per billion, yet the system must be free of false alarms despite by large concentrations of other species. Southwest Sciences proposes the development of a sensor for hydrogen cyanide based on optical absorption spectroscopy using diode lasers. This approach will meet all of the requirements identified above for space-borne sensors. Two types of diode lasers could be used. Each has a different set of advantages and disadvantages, and the Phase I effort will determine which of the two is best suited to NASA's needs.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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