Paragon Life Support Products
Paragon is a world leader in designing and manufacturing thermal control and life support systems. We have delivered biological life support systems to NASA and flown successful missions on the MIR, Space Shuttle and International Space Station. We continue our heritage of innovation, partnering with NASA, the DoD and industry to create advanced technologies for the most extreme environments.
Life Support System Products and Solutions
Paragon utilizes proprietary Life Support System models and a thorough knowledge of existing and next generation life support technologies to develop integrated system solutions for its customer’s most challenging life support needs. Products and solutions include:
Inflatable Habitat with Integrated Primary & Secondary Structure (IHIPSS)
Paragon has contracted with Thin Red Line Aerospace (TRLA) to explore the full utilization of inflatable structures by starting with a clean sheet of paper and designing a habitation module as an integrated, all-fabric inflatable structural architecture rather than modifying previous rigid space structural designs with an inflatable envelope. NASA is seeking innovative concepts for lightweight-structure technologies that would be viable solutions to high packaging efficiency, and of deployment mechanisms. Technologies are needed to minimize launch mass, volume and costs, while maintaining the required structural performance for the loads and environments.
Paragon Commercial Crew Transport-Air Revitalization System (CCT-ARS)
CCT-ARS is a turnkey life support system built to meet or exceed NASA human flight safety standards, and serves the commercial crew transportation market. The highly integrated CCT-ARS performs the following primary life support functions for a crew of up to seven persons:
- Carbon dioxide control
- Humidity control
- Trace contaminant control
- Post-fire atmospheric recovery
- Airborne particulate filtration
- Cabin air circulation
- Cabin air cooling
The CCT-ARS utilizes proven technologies and driving requirements that were developed with input from six commercial crew vehicle developers and NASA subject matter experts. The modularity of the system makes it conducive to commercial use in applications such as mine shelters and submarines.
Paragon Dive System™
The Paragon Dive System™ isolates a diver in a “space-suit like environment”, completely protecting divers from contaminants and hazardous materials present in their surrounding environment. The US Navy funded Paragon to redesign their existing surface supplied diving system because of the health risks posed to divers operating in contaminated water environments such as the USS Cole incident and Hurricane Katrina. This new diving system was selected as one of Popular Science’s Inventions of the Year in 2008 and is now in field test production and certification with the US Navy. The Paragon Dive System™ can also be used in many commercial contaminated water diving applications.
The core value of the Paragon Dive System™ comes from its Return Surface Exhaust design and upgraded materials that are more compatible with harsh chemical environments. The Return Surface Exhaust is designed to eliminate the contamination pathway of the original Navy system by capturing the exhaust of the diver and returning it to the surface through the umbilical. This is important as any open pathway with an air to water interface can lead to contamination entering the suit through aerosols, leakage, or both. The capturing of the exhaust isolates the diver in a “space-suit like environment” and protects him from water-borne chemical hazards in the surrounding environment.
The system minimizes the hardware required to be carried by the diver and eliminates any adverse performance impacts through the inclusion of a unique Demand Exhaust Regulator (DER). This fail-safe valve automatically regulates the exhaust pressure so that the diver breathes normally. The complete system is designed to have the same “Work of Breathing” as the existing, non-hardened system.
Paragon’s Dive System was also designed to save the US Navy costs by modifying, rather than replacing, their existing baseline system, a MK-37 helmet by Kirby Morgan and Viking dry suit.
Metabolic (heat regenerated) Temperature Swing Adsorption
Paragon is developing Metabolic heat regenerated Temperature Swing Adsorption (MTSA) technology, for use with Portable Life Support Systems (PLSS) to remove and reject heat and carbon dioxide (CO2) produced by an astronaut during extra vehicular activity (EVA), as well as to collect and recycle humidity in the ventilation loop. Employing MTSA increases mission flexibility because it is regenerable during the EVA, relies on less consumables delivered from Earth than the current baseline lunar and Martian PLSS technologies, and can use multiple coolants including non-cryogenic fluids. For Mars applications, MTSA technology is operationally sound because it can use room temperature liquid CO2 for coolant. This means it does not have to expend expensive, lifecritical water for heat rejection, does not compromise scientific investigations by contaminating the area around the astronaut, works in a CO2 (LCO2 ) environment as is found on Mars, and allows for easy storage of extra coolant on the surface of Mars for use in an emergency. (LCO2 is non-cryogenic and it will not boil-off.)
MTSA uses CO2 -selective sorbent that is cycled between below freezing to ~280 K. When cold, the sorbent removes CO2 from the astronaut’s ventilation gas. Metabolic heat from the astronaut is then used to warm the sorbent and subsequently reject the CO2 to the outside environment. Paragon has performed testing at Mars and MTSA operating conditions to identify a sorbent suitable for this unique cold temperature swing and to demonstrate the overall system concept. A detailed conceptual design was performed of the sorbent bed, the sublimation heat exchanger (for cooling) and the condensing ice heat exchanger (for warming and water collection). This drove manufacturing tests and demonstration of sorbent packaging for reduced sorbent bed pressure drop and mass. Analytical models of the channels in the condensing ice heat exchanger were developed, and tests were conducted to understand design drivers. LCO2 sublimation experiments were conducted to quantify overall heat transfer coefficients. Paragon is now developing a prototype for lunar applications under a Phase 2 Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) contract.
Solid Oxide Electrolysis
Paragon Space Development Corporation is developing Solid Oxide Electrolysis (SOE) as the next generation electrolysis/Sabatier subsystem to enable 100% oxygen regenerative air revitalization systems (ARS). Oxygen regenerated from a crew’s expired CO2 and H2O vapor is essential to enabling a continuous human presence on the moon and distant exploration of Mars at significantly reduced cost and risks. Other applications include O2 and propellant generation using lunar & Martian resources, O2 regeneration for Navy and ocean research submersibles, and O2 regeneration for hazardous material handlers, rescue personnel or other professionals performing in extreme environments.
This high temperature concept (up to 850°C) takes advantage of a SOE cell’s inherent ability to regenerate O2 from CO2 and H2O simultaneously, producing CO and H2 as by-products. The by-product of CO and H2 is addressed by employing Sabatier reactor technology embedded within the SOE unit to increase safety and reduce complexity/volume.
SOE can promise 100% oxygen regeneration without relying on consumables from Earth. Current water electrolysis/Sabatier reactor technology can only regenerate 80% of a human’s oxygen requirement without the use of a consumable such as hydrogen. The SOE concept safely eliminates handling of hydrogen, and works irrespective of gravity and pressure environments with no moving parts and no multi-phase flows.
Under a NASA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract, Paragon developed a to-scale preprototype to demonstrate oxygen regeneration and methane production. In support of this, Paragon developed 1-inch heaters in-house to attain up to 950°C temperatures in a small volume. Material testing was performed to identify manifolds that could withstand the high temperature, corrosive environments. A Sabatier catalyst was developed for this application and tested, using gas chromatography to quantify methane production. Over a thousand hours of electrolysis testing has been performed using single cells to understand performance and influence the stack design. Chemical thermodynamic analyses were performed and corroborated with testing to show that the design does not incur carbon deposition in the unit.
Paragon is developing a line of life support technologies that produces potable water from a waste stream, even one that is highly polluted and acidic such as moisture in the engine exhaust from generators and vehicles. This technology has applications in human spaceflight, especially deep space missions. In addition, this technology is applicable to remote theaters of war in arid lands. The Department of Defense wants to use it for capturing drinking water from vehicle and generator exhausts, as the logistics and cost of supplying drinking water in remote theaters is high. There is no other product on the market that is able to perform this function.
Autonomous Biological Systems
Paragon has developed a patented autonomous system for maintaining experimental organisms used in microgravity life science experiments. It is entirely autonomous, with no moving parts and requires only light and temperature control to work. This has numerous advantages over other more complex systems which require pumps and feeding mechanisms. Paragon’s Autonomous Biological System has flown on the U.S. Space Shuttle, the International Space Station and the Russian MIR Space Station, and has the distinction of being the first system in which animals completed multiple life cycles while in space.
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