Design of Scalable Gas Separation Membranes via Synthesis Under Microgravity (Cemsica) - 10.31.18

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Science Objectives for Everyone
Design of Scalable Gas Separation Membranes via Synthesis Under Microgravity (Cemisca) tests a novel approach of using particles of calcium-silicate (C-S) to synthesize nanoporous membranes (those with pores 100 nanometers or smaller) that can separate carbon dioxide molecules from air or other gases. Membrane separation is among the most energy-efficient and cost-effective technologies for removing carbon dioxide from waste gases to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Synthesizing the materials in microgravity may resolve existing challenges in membrane manufacturing and lead to development of lower-cost membranes with improved flux and high-temperature stability.
Science Results for Everyone
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The following content was provided by Negar Rajabi, M.S., M.B.A., and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Experiment Details

OpNom: Cemsica

Principal Investigator(s)
Negar Rajabi, M.S., M.B.A., Cemsica LLC, Houston, TX, United States

Information Pending

Tec-Masters Inc., Huntsville, AL, United States

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
National Laboratory (NL)

Research Benefits
Information Pending

ISS Expedition Duration
October 2018 - April 2019

Expeditions Assigned

Previous Missions
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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • Design of Scalable Gas Separation Membranes via Synthesis Under Microgravity (Cemsica) aims to develop improved membranes aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
  • A microgravity environment may alleviate membrane technology issues encountered on Earth.
  • The investigation in a space environment may provide physical insight and strategies for improved synthesis and assembly of the membranes.
  • Successful creation of improved membranes may be used in power plants, oil and gas production, and water treatment technologies.


The company Cemsica takes a new approach to synthesize de novo nanoporous membranes based on abundant materials such as Calcium-silicate, for separation of carbon dioxide (CO2) or post-combustion gases from air. The investigation Design of Scalable Gas Separation Membranes via Synthesis Under Microgravity (Cemsica) aims to resolve the existing challenges in membrane technology, such as high-temperature instability, low-flux, high-cost, and manufacturing difficulties with the use of advanced synthesis, microgravity and extreme conditions of International Space Station – National Lab (ISS-NL).
The benefits of the proposed technology include 55% reduction in separation energy consumption, increase in durability and high thermal/chemical stability, and reduction in the deleterious environmental impacts of CO2 emission.
The key hypothesis of this investigation is that microgravity conditions decouple the influence of chemical affinity and geometry which alter separation and transport phenomena. This, combined with experimentations under extreme conditions (high temperature and ultra vacuum) of ISSNL, provide new physical insights and strategies to control synthesis, self-assembly and performance of the membranes. Successful outcomes may significantly improve membrane technologies on Earth, providing a low-cost separation technology that is more energy-efficient, stable, and durable, and demonstrates exceptional CO2 selectivity. The project may have a tremendous impact on industrial gases and various energy sectors such as power plants, oil and gas producers, and water treatment technologies.

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Space Applications
The investigation may show that microgravity conditions remove the influence of chemical affinity and geometry in separation and transport phenomena. Combined with high temperatures and vacuum conditions in space, this may create a unique environment for a variety of research on synthesis, self-assembly and performance of membranes and other technologies.

Earth Applications
Lessons learned from the synthesis and performance of C-S nanoporous membranes in microgravity may improve manufacturing of high-performance membranes on Earth. Improvements in the design and manufacture of cost-effective, eco-friendly membranes may significantly benefit fossil-fuel power plants and gas separation technologies, helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions by separating and capturing carbon dioxide.

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Operational Requirements and Protocols
Four Cemsica samples are processed with Solidification Using a Baffle in Sealed Ampoules (SUBSA) hardware already aboard ISS. The hardware is integrated by the crew inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG). All SUBSA processing operations of the Cemsica samples take place inside the MSG work volume that provides containment. The SUBSA hardware and Cemsica samples have no unique ISS interfaces beyond those provided by MSG. Four Cemsica samples are processed, and each sample requires approximately seven hours to complete processing. It is expected for SUBSA to remain installed in MSG for up to two weeks to support Cemsica samples processing. After installation, crew involvement is limited since the investigation is controlled remotely from the ground.

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Decadal Survey Recommendations

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Results/More Information

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Related Websites

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