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Membranes, carbon dioxide removal, modeling, gas separation


Recently, NASA’s ultimate goal has been to launch a crewed Mars mission. However, the current system used for carbon dioxide (CO2) removal in air revitalization in the International Space Station (ISS) is not equipped to handle beyond low-earth-orbit missions. The Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly (CDRA) is a complex system that relies heavily on sorbent materials and faces challenges in reliability, energy efficiency, and material degradation. Although the CDRA has operated well in the ISS for the past two decades, health effects from high CO2 levels are amongst the most common complaints from and challenges for astronauts. Recent developments in membrane technology prove to be a promising alternative to sorbent-based systems for CO2 removal. Maintaining high selectivity for CO2 with a reasonable permeability, at such low partial pressures and in the presence of water, is among the main challenges of using membranes in this application. In this work, we have created a membrane-based model with appropriate conditions to identify the membrane technology for this application. We expect to determine a working range of critical parameters such as permeability, selectivity, and membrane area for successful CO2 separation. We will also be comparing the thermodynamic efficiency of a membrane-based process to that of the CDRA to pin-point areas of improvement.