Packed Bed test in low-g Aircraft
Volatile Reactor Assembly (VRA) on STS-89
PBRE Quad Chart
Packed Bed Reactor Experiment (PBRE) is being developed under the Space
Flight Systems Development and Operations Contract (SpaceDOC), through
the collaboration of ZIN Technologies and the National Aeronautics and
Space Administration (NASA) Glenn Research Center (GRC), the International
Space Station (ISS), the University of Houston, the National Center for
Space Exploration Research (NCSER) and NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC).
PBRE is an ISS payload designed to validate the hydrodynamics of two phased
flow in a packed bed reactor operating within a microgravity environment. Packed
bed reactors will be used of future space missions to purify water and
air, two substances essential for human life.
The PBRE project will provide the informational tools necessary to develop reliable and predictable advanced life support technology. Therefore, PBRE is developed in accordance with the 2006 NASA Strategic Plan (effective 2006-2016), Sub-goal 3F which is to: “Understand the effects of the space environment on human performance, and test new technologies and countermeasures for long-duration human space exploration…. For short-duration missions or missions in low Earth orbit, existing technology is sufficient to provide life support for exploration crews. However, as mission duration increases and missions extend further into space, air and water must be recycled and waste must be minimized to reduce overall mission mass while not impacting crew health and performance. New technologies in carbon dioxide removal, potable water, and other vital systems will reduce overall systems mass while keeping crews healthy and productive.”
The success of the PBRE project is imperative to the development of technologies which will maintain the well-being of crew members participating in extended space missions.
• Develop fundamental understanding of gas-liquid flow through porous media in a microgravity environment.
• Outcome will be the development of design and operational guidelines for Packed Bed Reactors in microgravity.
• Advantages of porous media components include higher throughputs, compact design, operational flexibility and minimal power consumption – applies directly to packed bed reactors.
• Porous media are critical components in life support systems; thermal control devices; fuel cells; and biological and chemical reactors.
• Completed extensive (but time-limited) low-G aircraft tests.
• Engineering model hardware and Proto-flight unit.
• Video and data down-linked to the ground for evaluation.
• Develop on-orbit replaceable test section to extend experiment capabilities. Enables flexibility for future development of porous media components/devices.
Contacts at NASA Glenn Research
Project Manager: Ronald Sicker, NASA, GRC
Project Scientist: Dr. Enrique Ramé, NCSER-NASA GRC
Principal Investigator: Dr. Brian Motil, NASA GRC
Co-Investigator: Prof. Vemuri Balakotaiah, University of Houston &
Julie L Mitchell (JSC)
Engineering Team: ZIN Technologies, Inc.