Continued Development of an Automated Carbon Formation Reactor as a Life Support Technologies Solution for Long-Duration Manned Missions and In-Situ Resource Utilization


Long-duration manned missions have a critical need for life support loop closure both for the journey, and for long-term survival in lunar and Martian surface colonies. The current state-of-the-art technology on board the International Space Station (ISS) is the Sabatier system, which has the potential for 50% oxygen recovery. This will not be sufficient to sustain manned flight beyond low Earth orbit. Therefore, this system must be greatly modified, or other life support system technologies must be developed with a higher potential for oxygen recovery. These systems may take the form of a Series Bosch system that has the potential to achieve 100% oxygen recovery from metabolic carbon dioxide, or a carbothermal reduction process to extract oxygen from surface regolith. pH Matter's automated Carbon Formation Reactor (CFR) is a critical component of both systems, providing both solid carbon that can be used as a feedstock for carbothermal reduction as well as water, which can be electrolyzed to release oxygen. pH Matter's automated CFR has been demonstrated at the four-crew member scale at both ambient pressure and at an elevated pressure of 200psia. The pressurized system was developed for use on the lunar or Martian surface for in-situ resource utilization (ISRU), while the ambient pressure system was developed for use in human-occupied habitats. The team will demonstrate the highly automated CFR reactor system at the forty-crew member ISRU-scale in May 2024.


Mary Powell, pH Matter LLC, USA
Paul Matter, pH Matter LLC, USA
Chris Holt, pH Matter LLC, USA
Charlie Wiswesser, pH Matter LLC, USA
Matt Burke, pH Matter LLC, USA
Dylan Baumgartner, pH Matter LLC, USA
Brandon Couch, pH Matter LLC, USA
Kaila Oberhaus, pH Matter LLC, USA
Collin Thompson, pH Matter LLC, USA
Makenzie Holt, pH Matter LLC, USA
ICES302: Physico-Chemical Life Support- Air Revitalization Systems -Technology and Process Development
The 53rd International Conference on Environmental Systems was held in Louisville, Kentucky, USA, on 21 July 2024 through 25 July 2024.


Life support, In-situ resource utilization, Carbon formation reactor, Oxygen recovery, Loop closure