Advanced Carbothermal Electric Reactor

Award Information
Agency:
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Branch
n/a
Amount:
$600,000.00
Award Year:
2011
Program:
SBIR
Phase:
Phase II
Contract:
NNX11CB54C
Agency Tracking Number:
094585
Solicitation Year:
2009
Solicitation Topic Code:
X3.01
Solicitation Number:
n/a
Small Business Information
Orbital Technologies Corporation
WI, Madison, WI, 53717-1961
Hubzone Owned:
N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
N
Woman Owned:
N
Duns:
196894869
Principal Investigator:
Robert Gustafson
Principal Investigator
(608) 229-2725
gustafsonr@orbitec.com
Business Contact:
Eric Rice
CEO
(608) 608-2760
knaufs@orbitec.com
Research Institution:
Stub




Abstract
The overall objective of the Phase 1 effort was to demonstrate the technical feasibility of the Advanced Carbothermal Electric (ACE) Reactor concept. Unlike state-of-the-art carbothermal reactors that use concentrated solar energy and/or laser energy to heat the regolith, the ACE Reactor uses an innovative method to electrically heat the regolith to temperatures over 1800ºC within a thermally insulted environment, either with or without a crucible. Commercial high-temperature heating elements made from molybdenum disilicide (MoSi2) are designed to only operate in oxidizing atmospheres where a protective layer of silicon dioxide (SiO2) will form. In Phase 1, the ACEreactor used MoSi2 heating elements with a protective coating to allow them to operate in any type of environment (oxidizing, reducing, or vacuum). The ACE Reactor concept eliminates the problems encountered with traditional carbothermal hot-wall reactors and offers significant advantages over current carbothermal reactor approaches. By eliminating the need for a concentrated solar energy system, the ACE reactor offers a significantly lowers system mass and removes the need to keep optical surfaces clean. In addition to efficiently producing oxygen, the ACE reactor separates the processed regolith into metallic iron and a silicate glass that can be formed into structural components or shielding materials.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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