Design of an Ultrafiltration/Reverse Osmosis Prototype Subsystem for the Treatment of Spacecraft Wastewaters
Long duration missions in space will require regenerative processes to recover water for crew reuse. Membrane processes are attractive as a primary processor in water recovery systems (WRS) because of their design simplicity, low specific energy requirements, small size, and high water recovery. However, fouling has historically been regarded as a disadvantage of membrane-based processes. This fouling is often caused by micelle buildup on the membrane surface by high-molecular-weight organics (e.g., from soaps and laundry detergents). This paper describes a two-stage fouling-resistant ultrafiltration (UF)/reverse osmosis (RO) prototype subsystem, which was designed and constructed for a WRS in the Life Support Systems Integration Facility (LSSIF) at NASA Johnson Space Center (NASA/JSC). The first stage of the subsystem is a tube-side-feed hollow-fiber UF module that removes contaminants that tend to foul spiral-wound modules.