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Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Tech Transfer

Space Evaporator Absorber Radiator (SEAR) for Thermal Storage on Manned Spacecraft

Completed Technology Project

Project Description

Space Evaporator Absorber Radiator (SEAR) for Thermal Storage on Manned Spacecraft Project Image
Future manned exploration spacecraft will need to operate in challenging thermal environments. State-of-the-art technology for active thermal control relies on sublimating water ice and venting the vapor overboard in very hot environments. This approach can lead to large loss of water and a significant mass penalty for the spacecraft. We propose to develop a Space Evaporator Absorber Radiator (SEAR) that uses heat pumping and energy storage by LiCl/water absorption to enable thermal control without venting water even in the most adverse thermal conditions. The LiCl absorber technology has the potential to absorb over 800 kJ per kg of system mass, compared to phase change heat sink systems that typically achieve ~50 kJ/kg. Successful, subscale tests have already shown the potential for significant mass savings and radiator size reduction. We propose to develop an experimental package that will enable SEAR testing on ISS. In Phase I we will prove feasibility by assessing thermal environments for future exploration spacecraft, designing the thermal control system, and producing a conceptual design for an ISS test package. In Phase II we will design, build, and test a prototype experimental package suitable for demonstrating SEAR performance in an ISS internal rack. More »

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