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Technical Paper

Disinfectants for Spacecraft Applications: An Overview

In-flight contamination control has been an important concern of NASA since the first manned missions. Previous experience has shown that uncontrolled growth of bacteria and fungi can have a detrimental effect on both the health of the crew and the proper operation of flight hardware. It is therefore imperative to develop a safe, effective method of microbial control. Spacecraft application dictates a more stringent set of requirements for biocide selection than is usually necessary for terrestrial situations. Toxicity of the biocide is the driving factor for disinfectant choice in spacecraft. This concern greatly reduces the number and types of chemical agents that can be used as disinfectants. Currently, four biocide candidates (hydrogen peroxide, quaternary ammonium compounds, iodine, glutaraldehyde) are being evaluated as potential surface disinfectants for Space Station Freedom.
Technical Paper

Biofilm Formation and Control in a Simulated Spacecraft Water System: Two-Year Results

The ability of iodine to maintain microbial water quality in a simulated spacecraft water system is being studied. An iodine level of about 2.0 mg/L is maintained by passing ultrapure influent water through an iodinated ion exchange resin. Six liters are withdrawn daily and the chemical and microbial quality of the water is monitored regularly. Stainless steel coupons used to monitor biofilm formation are being analyzed by culture methods, epifluorescence microscopy, and scanning electron microscopy. Results from the first two years of operation show a single episode of high bacterial colony counts in the iodinated system. This growth was apparently controlled by replacing the iodinated ion exchange resin. Scanning electron microscopy indicates that the iodine has limited but not completely eliminated the formation of biofilm during the first two years of operation.
Technical Paper

Test Results of a Shower Water Recovery System

A shower test was conducted recently at NASA-JSC in which waste water was reclaimed and reused. Test subjects showered in a prototype whole body shower following a protocol similar to that anticipated for Space Station. The waste water was purified using reverse osmosis followed by filtration through activated carbon and ion exchange resin beds. The reclaimed waste water was maintained free of microorganisms by using both heat and iodine. This paper discusses the test results, including the limited effectiveness of using iodine as a disinfectant and the evaluation of a Space Station candidate soap for showering. In addition, results are presented on chemical and microbial impurity content of water samples obtained from various locations in the water recovery process.
Technical Paper

Results on Reuse of Reclaimed Shower Water

A microgravity whole body shower (WBS) and a waste water recovery system (WWRS) were used in a closed loop test at the Johnson Space Center. The WWRS process involved chemical pretreatment, phase change distillation and post-treatment. A preprototype Thermoelectric Integrated Hollow Fiber Membrane Evaporation Subsystem (TIMES) was used for distillation after pretreatment and the post-treatment was accomplished with activated carbon, mixed ion exchange resin beds and microbial check valve (MCV) iodine bactericide dispensing units. The purposes of this test were to evaluate a NASA approved Shuttle soap for whole body showering comfort; evaluate the effects of the shower water on the WBS and the TIMES; and evaluate purification qualities of the recovered water in a closed loop operation.