Self-Assembled Monolayers on Mesoporous Supports (SAMMS®) technology is part of a new class of hybrid nanoporous materials.
These materials are typically comprised of highly porous silica decorated with molecular monolayers custom-designed to target and capture specific contaminants or trace components. When first developed by researchers at Pacifi c Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in the 1990s, SAMMS technology was found to have the capability to rapidly capture contaminants such as mercury, silver, cadmium, copper, and lead from aqueous environments. SAMMS material binds with the targeted contaminants, removing and recovering them without creating secondary waste.
Existing carbon dioxide (CO2) removal techniques involve contacting the CO2-laden air with an air scrubber using a liquid monoethanol amine (MEA) solution. MEA, in use aboard submarines for over half a century for atmospheric control, is bulky, heavy, corrosive, malodorous, and has a limited lifespan—serious and long-standing issues the Navy was highly motivated to solve. In order to support the Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division’s (NSWCCD) mission of new technology acquisition, PNNL investigated atmosphere control technologies that were available for leveraging for use by the U.S. Navy. Through early and persistent petitioning on behalf of the SAMMS technology, PNNL was able to secure funding through the Office of Naval Research to evaluate the SAMMS technology for efficacy of CO2 removal for use in submarine atmosphere control. Significant input was provided by PNNL and the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA).
Through early and persistent petitioning on behalf of the SAMMS technology, PNNL was able to secure funding through the Office of Naval Research to evaluate the SAMMS technology for efficacy of CO2 removal for use in submarine atmosphere control.
NSWCCD has established plans to deploy the first full-scale SAMMS-based breathing air sanitation units in the Virginia class submarine fleet. The class consists of 12 nuclear-powered fast attack submarines designed for a broad spectrum of open ocean and littoral missions. Other classes currently under consideration for subsequent deployment (retrofit) of this technology include the Ohio (18 in service), Seawolf (3 in service), and Los Angeles (43 in service) classes.
Researchers at PNNL are also currently exploring its potential fit with technology needs at NASA (breathing air for extravehicular activity [EVA] suits and aboard spacecraft such as the Orion). Another project under consideration is with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) to reduce the amount of air exchange required in commercial building operation, thereby alleviating associated heating and cooling costs.