Development of a Micro-Scale Plasma Arc Gasification System for Long Duration Space Mission Waste Processing

Date

2017-07-16

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Publisher

47th International Conference on Environmental Systems

Abstract

The NASA Space Technology Mission Directorate Center Innovation Fund at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) funded a one year investigation for the development of a micro-scale plasma arc gasification system for waste repurposing on long duration space missions. The reuse of discarded materials on a long duration or planetary mission is a critical component in reducing overall mission mass and creating useful commodities like fuel, water and repurposed construction materials. Plasma arc gasification converts the majority of organic waste into a synthesis gas (syngas), consisting primarily of hydrogen, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, and inorganic waste into a solid slag material that can be used as a construction aggregate. Plasma arc gasification had not been previously investigated for space applications, and potentially provides a cleaner product than other waste processing methods. The micro-scale plasma arc gasification system was designed, fabricated, and tested at KSC with a commercial plasma torch. This paper will discuss the project development and results regarding the use of plasma at low power and the challenges of plasma arc gasification for small scale waste conversion. Designing the power supply was the main challenge in this project. Although this plasma torch was successfully operated for short periods of time, the power supplies did not allow for low power operations over long periods of time.

Description

Anne Meier, NASA Kennedy Space Center (KSC), USA
Prital Thakrar, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), USA
Malay Shah, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), USA
Thad Johnson, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), USA
Jon Bayliss, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), USA
Paul Hintze, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), USA
Tracy Gibson, Vencore, USA
James Captain, Vencore, USA
ICES304: Physio-Chemical Life Support- Waste Management Systems- Technology and Process Development
The 47th International Conference on Environmental Systems was held in South Carolina, USA on 16 July 2017 through 20 July 2017.

Keywords

plasma arc gasification, trash to gas, space waste conversion, AC plasma torch

Citation