Besides its application to NASA, an ultrasensitive, lightweight oxygen analyzer also has significant commercial application for industrial process control monitoring and scientific instrumentation development. LGR is actively collaborating with several commercial partners to develop oxygen sensors for real-time control and optimization of electric arc furnaces. Additionally, LGR can readily extend the analyzer technology to address other trace gases for military applications. The proposed work is essential in making these instruments smaller, lighter, and more cost effective, thus enabling LGR to penetrate into these lucrative markets.
In low-pressure environments similar to those found during spacewalks or high-altitude flights, manned deployments require high-purity oxygen for breathing applications. This oxygen can be generated via in-situ resource utilization of extraplanetary regolith or extraction from ambient air. Both strategies involve using zeolite and carbon molecular sieves to remove other trace gases, and it is critical to continuously monitor the oxygen purity to optimize the generator conditions (e.g. gas flow rates, zeolite temperature, etc
), and account for sieve saturation, and quantify aging effects. Current technologies, including gas chromatography, mass spectrometry, and electrochemical detection, cannot accurately quantify minute changes oxygen purity without the use of consumables and calibration.