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Technical Paper

Chemiluminescent Ethanol Biosensor Development

The investigation and development of a chemiluminescence based ethanol detection concept into a biosensor system is described. The biosensor uses alcohol oxidase to catalyze the reaction of short chain primary alcohols with elemental oxygen to produce hydrogen peroxide and the corresponding aldehyde. The reaction of hydrogen peroxide with an organic luminophore in the presence of a sufficient electric field results in emission of blue light with peak intensity at 425nm. The chemiluminescent light intensity is directly proportional to the alcohol concentration of the sample. The aqueous phase chemistry required for sensor operation is implemented using solid phase modules which adjust the pH of the influent stream, catalyze the oxidation of alcohol, provide the controlled addition of the luminophore to the flowing aqueous stream, and minimize the requirement for expendables. Precise control of the pH has proven essential for the long-term sustained release of the luminophore.
Technical Paper

Catalytic Decomposition of Gaseous Byproducts from Primary Solid Waste Treatment Technologies

Several solid waste management (SWM) systems currently under development for spacecraft deployment result in the production of a variety of toxic gaseous contaminants. Examples include the Plastic Melt Waste Compactor (PMWC) at NASA - Ames Research Center1, the Oxidation/Pyrolysis system at Advanced Fuel Research2, and the Microwave Powered Solid Waste Stabilization and Water Recovery (MWSWS&WR) System at UMPQUA Research Company (URC). The current International Space Station (ISS) airborne contaminant removal system, the Trace Contaminant Control Subassembly (TCCS), is designed to efficiently process nominal airborne contaminants in spacecraft cabin air. However, the TCCS has no capability to periodically process the highly concentrated toxic vapors of variable composition, which are generated during solid waste processing, without significant modifications.
Technical Paper

Magnetically Assisted Gasification of Solid Waste

A variety of techniques, including supercritical water oxidation, fluidized bed combustion, and microwave incineration have been applied to the destruction of solid wastes produced in regenerative life support systems supporting long duration manned missions. Among potential problems which still deserve attention are the need for operation in a variety of gravitational environments, and the requirement for improved methods of presenting concentrated solids to the reactor. Significant improvements in these areas are made possible through employment of the magnetically assisted gasification process. In this paper, magnetic methods are described for manipulating the degree of consolidation or fluidization of granular ferromagnetic media, for application in a gravity independent three step solid waste destruction process.
Technical Paper

Development of Enabling Technologies for Magnetically Assisted Gasification of Solid Wastes

Magnetically Assisted Gasification (MAG) is a relatively new concept for the destruction of solid wastes aboard spacecraft, lunar and planetary habitations. Three sequential steps are used to convert the organic constituents of waste materials into useful gases: filtration, gasification, and ash removal. In the filtration step, an aqueous suspension of comminuted waste is separated and concentrated using a magnetically consolidated depth filter composed of granular ferromagnetic media. Once the filter is fully loaded, the entrapped solids are thermochemically gasified via a variety of mechanisms including pyrolysis, isomerization, and oxidation reactions. Finally, the inorganic ash residue is removed from the magnetic media by fluidization and trapped downstream by filtration. Importantly, for each of these steps, the degree of consolidation or fluidization of the granular ferromagnetic media is controlled using magnetic forces.
Technical Paper

Ambient Temperature Removal of Problematic Organic Compounds from ISS Wastewater

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.