BOSTON, Dec. 4, 2006 – Reactive Innovations, LLC (formerly MicroCell Technologies, LLC) was awarded a two-year long development contract from the NASA Ames Research Center to develop and deliver an electrochemical reactor for reducing carbon dioxide to oxygen. In support of NASA’s advanced life support processes and human exploration missions, recovering oxygen from carbon dioxide is important since oxygen resupply is not a viable option. During a previous investigation for NASA, Reactive Innovations, LLC (RIL) demonstrated a process that uses a low temperature molten salt to selectively adsorb carbon dioxide and electrochemically react it into separated streams of oxygen and carbon monoxide. This carbon dioxide removal and oxygen generator may be used by NASA to provide oxygen for cabin crew life support or for propellant generation on the moon or Mars as a part of the In Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) process. During this two-year long project, RIL is developing the technology into a compact and lightweight reactor to efficiently produce oxygen from carbon dioxide.
Potential NASA applications of the demonstrated technology include carbon dioxide reduction on board International Space Station and long duration exploration missions to the moon and Mars. Elements of the proposed technology may be used in other electrochemical reactor schemes for generating propellants as a part of NASA’s In Situ Resource Utilization program.
The broader implications of RIL’s compact electrochemical reactor may find commercial applications for processing or sequestering carbon dioxide from the ambient environment. Additional commercial applications may be found in sensors for carbon dioxide in air detection using components of the base technology developed here.