NASA SBIR SUCCESS STORY Marshall Space Flight Center
1993 Phase II

Microlith® Catalytic Reactor for Cabin Air-Cleaning

Precision Combustion, Inc.

North Haven, CT

A compact, lightweight regenerable Microlith®-based adsorber system with low power consumption capable of removing CO2, water vapor, and trace chemical contaminants from cabin air.
Ultra-Short Channel Metal Monolith® Catalytic Oxidizer®
Ultra-Short Channel Metal Monolith®
Catalytic Oxidizer

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  • Developed a pair of adsorbers modules for removal of CO2 and water vapor for cabin air application.
  • These modules were designed and sized to provide continuous removal of CO2 from cabin air and capable of removing 4 kg CO2/day (equivalent of 4 crews).
  • The ability to directly resistively heat the Microlith® substrate (i.e., internal heating) reduces the power consumption during sorbent regeneration.
  • Effort is a continuation of prior SBIR Phase III contract (NNM06AB36C) to develop and deliver subscale CO2, water vapor, and trace contaminant removal from cabin air for a 1-crew system.
  • These efficient, regenerable adsorption modules can potentially reduce the need for resupply and increase maintenance interval.
  • Product marketed by Precision Combustion, Inc. (PCI) as Regenerable Microlith® Adsorber Module.
  • A total of 10 Microlith® patents were awarded. This innovation is protected by U.S. Patent 7,141,092.
  • Target markets include aerospace, commercial, and defense applications.
  • Products sold to date include the featured adsorber modules. The ability to resistively heat the metal supports has been implemented in catalytic converters for IC engines, infrared generators for aerial targets, and other applications. Overall, sales exceed $1M.
  • Products manufactured by PCI’s Microlith® Division.
  • Competitive advantage of Microlith® technology lies in its uniquely high performance-to-weight and performance-to-size characteristics, efficiency, and fast thermal response while utilizing catalyst effectively to be cost competitive.
  • NASA applications include the regenerable Microlith® Adsorber Modules for Space Station and other space missions. The adsorption and subsequent desorption process via internal heating provides an easy and efficient regeneration method eliminating the need for an activated charcoal and CO2 adsorbent bed.
  • Microlith® short contact time substrate technology is relevant to spacecraft, space/lunar Martian habitat, and other space-constrained vehicles due to its compactness and low weight.
  • Spinoff technologies include protection from hazardous contaminants and against chemical-biological warfare agents, as well as, for removal of CO2 from closed space.
  • Additional potential NASA missions include lunar/Martian habitats and long-term flight manned spacecraft. Additional DoD missions include submarine and manned collective shelter against chemical and biological warfare agents.
  • Total NASA Phase III funding received is $505,000; DoD support is $391,000; commercial funding is $9,000.

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Curator: SBIR Support                10/03/11