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  Apollo 13: Lithium hydroxide (LiOH) canisters

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Author Topic:   Apollo 13: Lithium hydroxide (LiOH) canisters

Posts: 12
From: Marion, Iowa, USA
Registered: Jun 2013

posted 10-10-2013 04:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for DougS   Click Here to Email DougS     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I had a question about Apollo 13 and the lithium hydroxide canister situation they had.

As I understand it (and please set me straight if I'm wrong), the lunar module had two round canisters for two men for 30 hours. Then NASA MacGyvered the brilliant solution that they did.

Did the crew also take the round canisters out of the lunar spacesuits to give themselves some extra time until the solution was hit upon? Or wouldn't those have fit the lunar module's system?


Posts: 277
From: Yadkinville, NC
Registered: Jun 2000

posted 10-10-2013 09:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick   Click Here to Email Rick     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
By 2:30 a.m. the night of the accident, a mockup of the contraption that Ed Smylie's group put together was being shown to Ken Mattingly in the mission control center. Testing was done and a few tweaks here and there were made, and then two were actually constructed by the crew on Wednesday morning.

I don't think the situation ever got to the point where the crew had to dig into the spacesuits for a temporary fix.

Andy L
New Member

Posts: 4
From: England
Registered: Aug 2012

posted 10-10-2013 10:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Andy L     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Whilst on this subject, did NASA change the lithium hydroxide canisters on the rest of the Apollo missions so that they were the same in both the CM and the LM?


Posts: 3072
From: Sierra Vista, Arizona
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 10-10-2013 10:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Nope... would have required a significant redesign of the ECU to account for different cartridge geometries, flow path, stowage and disparate demand rates from each system.


Posts: 12
From: Marion, Iowa, USA
Registered: Jun 2013

posted 10-10-2013 10:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for DougS   Click Here to Email DougS     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for the info, Rick!


Posts: 1568
From: U.K.
Registered: Jul 2009

posted 10-11-2013 01:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There's a step by step guide to making your own converter here.


Posts: 523
From: Danville, Ohio, USA
Registered: Dec 2002

posted 10-11-2013 08:13 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for space1   Click Here to Email space1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The LM ECS could use the LiOH canisters made for the LM (primary) as well as fitting the LiOH canisters made for the suit backpacks (PLSS) (secondary). I don't know if the Apollo 13 crew had already used the PLSS LiOH canisters when the fix was developed. As I understand it, an adapter was made for contingency use on later flights.

Have a look if you haven't already seen a comparison of the LM and CM LiOH canisters.

John Fongheiser
Historic Space Systems

Andy Anderson

Posts: 11
From: Singapore
Registered: Dec 2009

posted 10-13-2013 09:49 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Andy Anderson   Click Here to Email Andy Anderson     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The following is quoted from the A13 Mission Report September 1970.

The installed primary lithium hydroxide cartridge was used for approximately 27 hours (82 man-hours) following activation of the lunar module at about 58 hours. The secondary cartridge was selected at about 85 1/2 hours. During operation of the lunar module carbon dioxide removal system, the level was permitted to increase to an indicated 14.9 mm Hg. The primary cartridge is nominally rated for a usage capacity of 41 man-hours at 520 Btu/man-hour. The secondary cartridge, nominally rated for about 17.9 man-hours, was used for 8 1/2 hours (25 1/2 man-hours). This cartridge is identical to that used in the portable life support system. A second primary cartridge was installed and used for approximately 6 minutes, but for the remainder of the mission, command module lithium hydroxide cartridges were operated in a special arrangement. One side of each of two command module cartridges was covered and sealed with a plastic bag normally used to store a liquid-cooling garment. One corner of the bag was sealed to the inlet of the suit circuit hose. The cabin atmosphere then returned to the lunar module suit circuit through these supplemental cartridges by way of the two outlet hoses. The mass flow through this arrangement was partially restricted with tape to properly load the suit-circuit compressors. After approximately 20 hours of operation with two command module cartridges, an additional unit was stacked on each original cartridge to improve the carbon dioxide removal capability. With this supplemental configuration, when only command module cartridges were being used, the indicated carbon dioxide level was maintained between 0.1 and 1.8 mm Hg.

This is an image of the other "mail box" that was installed in the tunnel rather than the more commonly portrayed image of the one in the LM.

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