The primary application of the Carbonaceous Asteroid Volatile Recovery (CAVoR) system is to provide a compact, high performance apparatus for the extraction and recovery of water and organic matter in support of propellant production, breathing gas, and life support. These capabilities are key to extending NASA's mission beyond low earth orbit to include long-duration space habitation, lunar, and Mars colonization missions.
The autothermal steam reforming technology proposed for the CAVoR has applications in the recovery of water and energy values from terrestrial wastes and resources. Steam reforming technology has mostly been applied to feed matter containing only small amounts of inorganic matter. The efficient use and recovery of process heat to be established during the CAVoR program will enable non-catalytic autothermal steam reforming technology to be applied to feeds such as contaminated soils, low-grade hydrocarbon feeds, oil shale, un-sorted municipal waste, and other organic materials. By so doing, many otherwise refractory, hazardous compounds can potentially be broken into syngas constituents for use as fuels rather than being incinerated with no economic gain. The relatively low-temperature residue from autothermal steam reforming will be de-agglomerated, rendered sterile, and made suitable for down stream physical separations and byproduct recovery. The CAVoR technology will be poised for entry into the growing market demand for waste volume reduction and low-grade fuels resources. The device solves a variety of industrial and municipal waste challenges with minimal environmental impact. The primary CAVoR steam reforming technology does not require exotic chemicals or catalysts for the production of water and syngas. Only small amounts of catalysts or sorbents are required for contaminant removal and conventional downstream fuels synthesis.