Method for the control of NOx emissions in long-range space travel

X. H. Xu, Y. Shi, S. H. Liu, H. P. Wang, S. G. Chang, J. W. Fisher, S. Pisharody, M. Moran, K. Wignarajah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The wheat straw, an inedible biomass that can be continuously produced in a space vehicle has been used to produce activated carbon for effective control of NOx emissions from the incineration of wastes. The optimal carbonization temperature of wheat straw was found to be around 600°C when a burnoff of 67% was observed. The BET surface area of the activated carbon produced from the wheat straw reached as high as 300 m2/g. The presence of oxygen in flue gas is essential for effective adsorption of NO by activated carbon. On the contrary, water vapor inhibits the adsorption efficiency of NO. Consequently, water vapor in flue gas should be removed by drying agents before adsorption to ensure high NO adsorption efficiency. All of the NO in the flue gas was removed for more than 2 h by the activated carbons when 10% oxygen was present and the ratio of carbon weight to the flue gas flow rate (W/F) was 30 g·min/L, with a contact time of 10.2 s. All of NO was reduced to N2 by the activated carbon at 450°C with a W/F ratio of 15 g·min/L and a contact time of 5.1 s. Reduction of the adsorbed NO also regenerated the activated carbon, and the regenerated activated carbon exhibited an improved NO adsorption efficiency. However, the reduction of the adsorbed NO resulted in a loss of carbon which was determined to be about 0.99% of the activated carbon per cycle of regeneration. The sufficiency of the amount of wheat straw in providing the activated carbon based on a six-person crew, such as the mission planned for Mars, has been determined. This novel approach for the control of NOx emissions is sustainable in a closed system such as the case in space travel. It is simple to operate and is functional under microgravity environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1303-1310
Number of pages8
JournalEnergy and Fuels
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2003 Sept 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology


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