Characterizing Cryogenic Carbon Dioxide Capture for Life Support Systems
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Without a vastly improved cabin air CO2 removal system technology, deep space missions will not be plausible. The carbon dioxide removal assembly (CDRA) on ISS has repeated replacement and maintenance costs due to adsorbent material degradation. A current effort to evaluate CO2 removal systems to succeed CDRA is underway. Alternative adsorption and thermal amine technologies are included. Cryogenic capture of CO2 in a cabin atmosphere is a newly-explored solution. Cryogenics are highly reliable, self-sufficient systems with great potential in this area of study. The added benefit of a cryogenic system is that it can provide humidity and trace contaminant control in addition to CO2 capture. Whereas cryogenic cooling technologies are established and Mars atmosphere CO2 capture has been tested, little research has been done on the application of cryogenic cooling to life support CO2 capture. This paper describes the design, build and initial functional testing of a lab-scale cryogenic system to remove CO2 from simulated cabin air. The system is ready to test both CO2/N2 mixed and dry CO2-loaded air, and production rate, cycle time, and power requirements will be characterized so that future flight-like system requirements may be better modeled.