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The Mathematical Analysis of a Novel Approach to Maximize Waste Recovery in a Life Support System

[+] Author Affiliations
Michael G. McKellar, Rick A. Wood, Carl M. Stoots

Idaho National Laboratory, Idaho Falls, ID

Lila Mulloth, Bernadette Luna

NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA

Paper No. IMECE2011-64199, pp. 335-342; 8 pages
  • ASME 2011 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Volume 4: Energy Systems Analysis, Thermodynamics and Sustainability; Combustion Science and Engineering; Nanoengineering for Energy, Parts A and B
  • Denver, Colorado, USA, November 11–17, 2011
  • Conference Sponsors: ASME
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5490-7
  • Copyright © 2011 by ASME


NASA has been evaluating closed-loop atmosphere revitalization architectures that include carbon dioxide (CO2 ) reduction technologies. The CO2 and steam (H2 O) co-electrolysis process is one of the reduction options that NASA has investigated. Utilizing recent advances in the fuel cell technology sector, the Idaho National Laboratory, INL, has developed a CO2 and H2 O co-electrolysis process to produce oxygen and syngas (carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrogen (H2 ) mixture) for terrestrial (energy production) application. The technology is a combined process that involves steam electrolysis, CO2 electrolysis, and the reverse water gas shift (RWGS) reaction. Two process models were developed to evaluate novel approaches for energy storage and resource recovery in a life support system. In the first model, products from the INL co-electrolysis process are combined to produce methanol fuel. In the second co-electrolysis, products are separated with a pressure swing adsorption (PSA) process. In both models the fuels are burned with added oxygen to produce H2 O and CO2 , the original reactants. For both processes, the overall power increases as the syngas ratio, H2 /CO, increases because more water is needed to produce more hydrogen at a set CO2 incoming flow rate. The power for the methanol cases is less than pressure swing adsorption, PSA, because heat is available from the methanol reactor to preheat the water and carbon dioxide entering the co-electrolysis process.

Copyright © 2011 by ASME



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