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.
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:
Ionomer-membrane Water Processor (IWP)
Paragon’s patented Ionomer-membrane Water Processor (IWP) System was developed to improve and simplify water recovery processes for space applications. Currently under contract with NASA, Paragon will develop the IWP to utilize the forced convection of dry spacecraft cabin air coupled with a robust membrane distillation process to purify and recover the available water from urine brine. The level of recovery from brine contributes directly to NASA’s goal to achieve an overall water recovery rate of 98% for future Water Recovery Systems. IWP’s exhaust air humidity and trace contaminant levels are well within acceptable limits for crew health and compatible with other spacecraft systems such as the trace contaminant control. Purified water vapor will be collected by the existing spacecraft condensing heat exchanger already in place to recover metabolically produced water vapor, such as water from crew breathing and sweating, and be further processed to potable water utilizing the existing spacecraft Water Recovery System.
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™ converts a commercially available helmet and suit into a fully encapsulated protection system to isolate the diver from the hazards found in grossly contaminated water. System benefits include:
Highest Level of Safety:
- Isolates diver from environment
- Eliminates permeation of contaminants
- Backup exhaust circuit as a fail over in a case of malfunction
Lower Operating costs:
- Reduce time between dives without having to replace seals
- Increase dive times to six hours without risk of exposure
Metabolic (heat regenerated) Temperature
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.
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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