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In-Space Propulsion, Logistics Reduction, and Evaluation of Steam Reformer Kinetics: Problems and ProspectsHuman space missions generate waste materials. A 70-kg crewmember creates a waste stream of 1 kg per day, and a four-person crew on a deep space habitat for a 400+ day mission would create over 1600 kg of waste. Converted into methane, the carbon could be used as a fuel for propulsion or power. The NASA Advanced Exploration Systems (AES) Logistics Reduction and Repurposing (LRR) project is investing in space resource utilization with an emphasis on repurposing logistics materials for useful purposes and has selected steam reforming among many different competitive processes as the preferred method for repurposing organic waste into methane. Already demonstrated at the relevant processing rate of 5.4 kg of waste per day, high temperature oxygenated steam consumes waste and produces carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and hydrogen which can then be converted into methane catalytically. However, the steam reforming process has not been studied in microgravity. Data are critically needed to understand the mechanisms that allow use of steam reforming in a reduced gravity environment. This paper reviews the relevant literature, identifies gravity-dependent mechanisms within the steam gasification process, and describes an innovative experiment to acquire the crucial kinetic information in a small-scale reactor specifically designed to operate within the requirements of a reduced gravity aircraft flight. The experiment will determine if the steam reformer process is mass-transport limited, and if so, what level of forced convection will be needed to obtain performance comparable to that in 1-g.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Jaworske, D. A.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH United States)
Palaszewski, B. A.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH United States)
Kulis, M. J.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH United States)
Gokoglu, S. A.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH United States)
Date Acquired
January 26, 2015
Publication Date
January 5, 2015
Subject Category
Man/System Technology And Life Support
Propellants And Fuels
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
SciTech 2015(Kissimmee, FL)
Funding Number(s)
WBS: WBS 203950.04.02.04
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
Space Processing

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