Ambient Temperature Removal of Problematic Organic Compounds from ISS Wastewater 2002-01-2534
Small, highly polar organics such as urea, alcohols, acetone, and glycols are not easily removed by the International Space Station's Water Recovery System. The current design utilizes the Volatile Removal Assembly (VRA) which operates at 125°C to catalytically oxidize these contaminants. Since decomposition of these organics under milder conditions would be beneficial, several ambient temperature biocatalytic and catalytic processes were evaluated in our laboratory. Enzymatic oxidation and ambient temperature heterogeneous catalytic oxidation of these contaminants were explored. Oxidation of alcohols proceeded rapidly using alcohol oxidase; however, effective enzymes to degrade other contaminants except urea were not found. Importantly, both alcohols and glycols were efficiently oxidized at ambient temperature using a highly active, bimetallic noble metal catalyst. Adsorption onto activated carbon formed from pyrolyzed polymeric beads was shown to be the most practical method for acetone removal.