Carbon dioxide concentration measurements are used by the PLSS to trigger regeneration of the two adsorbent beds of the rapid cycle amine system (RCA) that remove CO2 and water from the spacesuit atmosphere. Several extravehicular activities (EVA) aboard the space station have been terminated prematurely due to faulty CO2 sensors. Without accurate CO2 concentration data the PLSS reverts to a conservative timed mode for RCA catalyst regeneration based on a high metabolic rate and the astronaut is typically advised to monitor their physical condition for symptoms high CO2 concentration. The technology developed for the PLSS can be extended to monitor cabin air quality.
Southwest Sciences and its licensing partners are developing numerous WMS instruments for use in both the private and government sectors. Both the compact cell design and the FPGA based electronics (hardware and algorithms) will greatly aid in manufacturability of future instruments. Government agencies interested in gas measurements include NASA, D.O.E, USDA, DOD and NSF. The private sector applications of the technology developed in this STTR project include gas sensing for environmental research, leak detection, process gas contaminant detection, breath gas analysis and packaging head space measurements. Our plan is to build these instruments on a custom manufacturing and sales basis. Our vision is to continue as a highly successful broad technology development company, commercializing promising technologies through licensing, small-scale in-house manufacturing, creating joint-ventures with partners, or creating spin-off companies as separate entities, depending on the type of technology and the intended market. Southwest Sciences has successfully commercialized eight products: five products via licensing to manufacturing companies, two products that are sold directly to the public, and one product sold under a sole-source supplier agreement to a major U.S.-based multi-national corporation. Five of these eight products were developed with the aid of SBIR funds. Southwest Sciences currently has four active, income generating licenses.