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Technical Paper

Thin Film Measurement Assessment of the VPCAR Water Recovery System in Partial and Microgravity

2007-07-09
2007-01-3039
The Vapor Phase Catalytic Ammonia Removal (VPCAR) system is being developed to recycle water for future NASA Exploration Missions [1,2,3,4,5]. Reduced gravity testing of the VPCAR System has been initiated to identify any potential problems with microgravity operation. Two microgravity testing campaigns have been conducted on NASA's C-9B Reduced Gravity Aircraft. These tests focused on the fluid dynamics of the unit's Wiped-Film Rotating Disk (WFRD) evaporator. The experiments used a simplified system to study the process of forming a thin film on a rotating disk. The configuration simulates the application of feed in the VPCAR's WFRD evaporator. The first round of aircraft testing, which was completed in early 2006, indicated that a problem with microgravity operation of the WFRD existed. It was shown that in reduced gravity the VPCAR wiper did not produce a uniform thin film [6]. The film was thicker near the axis of rotation where centrifugal forces are small.
Technical Paper

The Influence of Power Limitations on Closed Environment Life Support System Applications

1997-07-01
972356
The future of manned space exploration will be determined through a process which balances the innate need of humanity to explore its surroundings and the costs associated with accomplishing these goals. For NASA this balance is derived from economics and budgetary constraints that hold it accountable for the expenditure of public funds. These budgetary realities demand a reduction in cost and expenditures of exploration and research activities. For missions venturing out to the edge of habitability, the development of cost effective life support approaches will have a significant influence on mission viability. Over the past several years a variety of mission scenarios for Lunar and Mars missions have been developed. The most promising of these attempt to provide basic mission requirements at a minimum cost. As a result these missions are extremely power limited.
Technical Paper

The Development of the Wiped-Film Rotating-Disk Evaporator for the Reclamation of Water at Microgravity

2002-07-15
2002-01-2397
This project is a Phase III SBIR contract between NASA and Water Reuse Technology (WRT). It covers the redesign, modification, and construction of the Wiped-Film Rotating-Disk (WFRD) evaporator for use in microgravity and its integration into a Vapor Phase Catalytic Ammonia Removal (VPCAR) system. VPCAR is a water processor technology for long duration space exploration applications. The system is designed as an engineering development unit specifically aimed at being integrated into NASA Johnson Space Center's Bioregenerative Planetary Life Support Test Complex (BIO-Plex). The WFRD evaporator and the compressor are being designed and built by WRT. The balance of the VPCAR system and the integrated package are being designed and built by Hamilton Sundstrand Space Systems International, Inc. (HSSSI) under a subcontract with WRT. This paper provides a description of the VPCAR technology and the advances that are being incorporated into the unit.
Technical Paper

The Development of the Vapor Phase Catalytic Ammonia Removal (VPCAR) Engineering Development Unit

2004-07-19
2004-01-2495
This paper presents the results of a program to develop the next generation Vapor Phase Catalytic Ammonia Removal (VPCAR) system. VPCAR is a spacecraft water recycling system designed by NASA and constructed by Water Reuse Technology Inc. The technology has been identified by NASA to be the next generation water recycling system [1]. It is designed specifically for a Mars transit vehicle mission. This paper provides a description of the process and an evaluation of the performance of the new system. The equivalent system mass (ESM) is calculated and compared to the existing state-of-the art. A description of the contracting mechanism used to construct the new system is also provided.
Technical Paper

Testing of Performance of a Scroll Pump in Support of Improved Vapor Phase Catalytic Ammonia Removal (VPCAR) Mass Reduction

2006-07-17
2006-01-2130
This paper describes the results of ground testing of a scroll pump with a potential of being a substitute for the current vacuum pump of the Vapor Phase Catalytic Ammonia Reduction (VPCAR). Assessments of the pressure-time, pump-down time, pump power and the pump noise were made for three configurations of the pump the first of which was without the gas ballast, the second with the gas ballast installed but not operating and the third with the gas ballast operating. The tested scroll pump exhibited optimum characteristics given its mass and power requirements. The pump down time required to reach a pressure of 50 Torr ranged from 60 minutes without the ballast to about 120 minutes with the gas ballast operational. The noise emission and the pump power were assessed in this paper as well.
Technical Paper

Solid Waste Processing - An Essential Technology for the Early Phases of Mars Exploration and Colonization

1997-07-01
972272
Terraforming of Mars is the long-term goal of colonization of Mars. However, this process is likely to be a very slow process and conservative estimates involving a synergetic, technocentric approach suggest that it may take around 10,000 years before the planet can be parallel to that of Earth and where humans can live in open systems (Fogg, 1995). Hence, for the foreseeable future, any missions will require habitation within small confined habitats with high biomass to atmospheric mass ratios, thereby requiring that all wastes be recycled. Processing of the wastes will ensure predictability and reliability of the ecosystem and reduce resupply logistics. Solid wastes, though smaller in volume and mass than the liquid wastes, contain more than 90% of the essential elements required by humans and plants.
Technical Paper

Proof of Concept Testing of Low Temperature Brine Microbial Habitats for Subsurface Mars and Europa Habitat Viability Scenario Testing and Astrobiology Biosignature Instrument Development

2006-07-17
2006-01-2008
Presented is a synopsis of ongoing research into the development of techniques and hardware required to produce useable quantities of astrobiology relevant biomass under controlled and repeatable laboratory conditions. This study has developed microbial habitats (referred to as digesters, due to their biomass production function) capable of sustaining microbial communities under low temperature, high salt, high sulfate, anaerobic conditions. This set of basic conditions is necessary to develop biomass material that is analog to the biomass that would be present in subsurface brine habitats on Mars or Europa, from the perspective of several critical biochemical properties.
Technical Paper

Performance Testing of the Vapor Phase Catalytic Ammonia Removal Engineering Development Unit

2005-07-11
2005-01-3033
This paper describes the results of performance testing of the Vapor Phase Catalytic Ammonia Removal (VPCAR) technology. The VPCAR technology is currently being developed by NASA as a Mars transit vehicle water recycling system. NASA has recently completed a grant to develop a next generation VPCAR system. This grant concluded with the shipment of the final deliverable from Water Reuse Technology Inc. to NASA on August 31, 2003. This paper presents the results of initial performance testing of the VPCAR-EDU. Mass, power, volume, and acoustic measurements are reported. Product water purity analysis for a Mars transit mission and a planetary base simulated wastewater feeds are also reported.
Technical Paper

New Concepts and Performance of the Direct Osmotic Concentration Process for Wastewater Recovery in Advanced Life Support Systems

2006-07-17
2006-01-2086
Direct osmotic concentration (DOC) has been identified as a potential wastewater treatment process for potable reuse in advanced life support systems (ALSS). As a result, further development of the DOC process is being supported by a NASA Rapid Technology Development Team (RTDT) program. DOC is an integrated membrane system combining three unique membrane separation processes including forward osmosis (FO), membrane distillation (MD), and reverse osmosis (RO) that is designed to treat separate wastewater streams comprising hygiene wastewater, humidity condensate, and urine. An aqueous phase catalytic oxidation (APCO) process is incorporated as post treatment for the product water. In an ongoing effort to improve the DOC process and make it fully autonomous, further development of the three membrane technologies is being pursued.
Technical Paper

Modeling of Heat and Mass Transfer in a TEC-Driven Lyophilizer

2006-07-17
2006-01-2185
Dewatering of wet waste during space exploration missions is important for crew safety as it stabilizes the waste. It may also be used to recover water and serve as a preconditioning step for waste compaction. A thermoelectric cooler (TEC)- driven lyophilizer is under development at NASA Ames Research Center for this purpose. It has three major components: (i) an evaporator section where water vapor sublimes from the frozen waste, (ii) a condenser section where this water vapor deposits as ice, and (iii) a TEC section which serves as a heat pump to transfer heat from the condenser to the evaporator. This paper analyses the heat and mass transfer processes in the lyophilizer in an effort to understand the ice formation behavior in the condenser. The analysis is supported by experimental observations of ice formation patterns in two different condenser units.
Technical Paper

Lyophilization for Water Recovery III, System Design

2005-07-11
2005-01-3084
Mixed liquid/solid wastes, including feces, water processor effluents, and food waste, can be lyophilized (freeze-dried) to recover the water they contain and stabilize the solids that remain. Our previous research has demonstrated the potential benefits of using thermoelectric heat pumps to build a lyophilizer for processing waste in microgravity. These results were used to build a working prototype suitable for ground-based human testing. This paper describes the prototype design and presents results of functional and performance tests.
Technical Paper

Lyophilization for Water Recovery II, Model Validation

2004-07-19
2004-01-2377
This paper presents results of research on a solid waste dryer, based of the process of lyophilization, which recovers water and stabilizes solid waste. A lyophilizer has been developed and tested that uses thermoelectric heat pumps (TECs) to recycle heat during drying. The properties of TECs facilitate direct measurement of heat flow rates, and heat flow data are used to evaluate a heat and mass transfer model of the thermoelectric lyophilizer. Data are consistent with the theoretical model in most respects. Practical problems such as insulation and vacuum maintenance are minor in this system. However, the model’s assumption of a uniformly retreating ice layer during drying is valid only for the first 30% of water removed. Beyond this point, a shrinking core or lens model is more appropriate. Heat transfer to the shrinking core surrounded by dried material is slow.
Technical Paper

Lyophilization for Water Recovery

2001-07-09
2001-01-2348
An energy-efficient lyophilization technique is being developed to recover water from highly contaminated spacecraft waste streams. In the lyophilization process, water in an aqueous waste is frozen and then sublimed, separating the waste into a dried solid material and liquid water. This technology is ideally suited to applications such as the Mars Reference Mission, where water recovery rates approaching 100% are desirable but production of CO2 is not. Candidate wastes include feces, concentrated brines from water processors, and other solid wastes that contain water. To operate in microgravity, and to minimize power consumption, thermoelectric heat pumps can be used in place of traditional fluid cycle heat pumps. A mathematical model of a thermoelectric lyophilizer is described and used to generate energy use and processing rate estimates.
Journal Article

Lightweight Contingency Water Recovery System Concept Development

2008-06-29
2008-01-2143
The Lightweight Contingency Water Recovery System (LWC-WRS) harvests water from various sources in or around the Orion spacecraft in order to provide contingency water at a substantial mass savings when compared to stored emergency water supplies. The system uses activated carbon treatment (for urine) followed by forward osmosis (FO). The LWC-WRS recovers water from a variety of contaminated sources by directly processing it into a fortified (electrolyte and caloric) drink. Primary target water sources are urine, seawater, and other on board vehicle waters (often referred to as technical waters). The product drink provides hydration, electrolytes, and caloric requirements for crew consumption. The system hardware consists of a urine collection device containing an activated carbon matrix (Stage 1) and an FO membrane treatment element (or bag) which contains an internally mounted cellulose triacetate membrane (Stage 2).
Technical Paper

Lightweight Contingency Urine Recovery System Concept Development

2007-07-09
2007-01-3037
The Lightweight Contingency (LWC) Urine System is a contingency urine recovery system that produces a liquid food product. It does this on an individual (personal) basis thus removing the concerns associated with shared urine recycle. The system uses activated carbon treatment followed by forward osmosis (FO) to provide a hydration and electrolyte fluid (a sports drink) for crew consumption. The system hardware consists of an initial urine collection device containing an activated carbon matrix. This is followed by transfer of the treated urine into an FO membrane treatment cell. The FO treatment cell consists of a 2 L plastic bag. This FO bag is a robustly constructed intravenous (IV) surgical fluid drip bag equipped with input and output ports and an internally mounted cellulose triacetate membrane. All components are light weight disposable plastic, the system is potentially wearable, and it uses no electrical power.
Technical Paper

In Situ Production of High Density Polyethylene and Other Useful Materials on Mars

2005-07-11
2005-01-2776
One of the largest single mass penalties required to support the human exploration of Mars is the surface habitat structural mass. Reducing the amount of structural material that must be launched from Earth to provide a habitat will reduce the cost of future missions. This paper describes the use of physical chemical technologies to produce high-density polyethylene for use as structural/construction materials from Mars atmospheric carbon dioxide. The formation of polyethylene from Mars carbon dioxide is based on the use of the Sabatier and modified Fischer Tropsch reactions. The system describe can be fully integrate with planned Mars in situ propellant production concepts.
Technical Paper

In Situ Hydrogen Peroxide Generation for Use as a Disinfectant and as an Oxidant for Water Recovery by Aqueous Phase Catalytic Oxidation

1996-07-01
961521
The initial development effort is described for an electrochemical hydrogen peroxide generator and pervaporation module capable of producing and delivering hydrogen peroxide to a contaminated waste water stream as an oxidant or to a pure water stream for use as a disinfectant. A three chambered cell is used to generate hydrogen peroxide by a combined electrodialysis and electrochemical process. Each chamber is separated from its neighbor by a membrane allowing selective production of peroxide anions and hydrogen ions under controlled pH conditions followed by migration to form hydrogen peroxide. Concentrations greater than 6,500mg/L have been produced in this manner. The effects of voltage, pH, membranes, electrode materials, and method of oxygen introduction are delineated. Hydrogen peroxide is then transferred to the end-use stream by pervaporation. The impact of pH, relative flow rates, and ionic strength of sink and source solutions on pervaporation rates is detailed.
Technical Paper

Identification of Extraterrestrial Microbiology Using Fluorescent Analysis Techniques

1999-07-12
1999-01-2207
One of the key questions addressed in the field of Astrobiology is based upon the assumption that life exists, or at one time existed, in locations throughout the universe. However, this assumption is just that, an assumption. No definitive proof exists. On Earth, life has been found to exist in many diverse environments. We believe that this tendency towards diversity supports the assumption that life could exist wherever environmental conditions are right to support it. There are several locations within our Solar System which might support environments which are conducive to life. However, to conclusively establish the existence of life in such locations we must be capable of sensing generic life forms. This paper provides a summary of several innovative techniques based on the use of fluorescent analysis for the direct detection of extraterrestrial life forms.
Technical Paper

Fluid Dynamics Assessment of the VPCAR Water Recovery System in Partial and Microgravity

2006-07-17
2006-01-2131
The Vapor Phase Catalytic Ammonia Removal (VPCAR) system is being developed to recycle water for future NASA Exploration Missions. Testing was recently conducted on NASA's C-9B Reduced Gravity Aircraft to determine the microgravity performance of a key component of the VPCAR water recovery system. Six flights were conducted to evaluate the fluid dynamics of the Wiped-Film Rotating Disk (WFRD) distillation component of the VPCAR system in microgravity, focusing on the water delivery method. The experiments utilized a simplified system to study the process of forming a thin film on a disk similar to that in the evaporator section of VPCAR. Fluid issues are present with the current configuration, and the initial alternative configurations were only partial successful in microgravity operation. The underlying causes of these issues are understood, and new alternatives are being designed to rectify the problems.
Technical Paper

Direct Osmotic Concentration: A Primary Water Treatment Process for Space Life Support Applications

2003-07-07
2003-01-2332
For wastewater treatment applications, membrane processes are known to provide excellent treatment but are subject to failure due to membrane fouling. The Direct Osmotic Concentration (DOC) system evaluated in this study provides a membrane based primary treatment process capable of overcoming this problem. A full scale test apparatus containing full scale test module membrane cells has been developed and has undergone preliminary testing that provides a basis for comparison with other primary water recycle process concepts. This study confirms and extends the initial testing of this hardware and determines the required improvements to the existing test mo dules. These improvements, in addition to future testing, are intended to complete the validation of the concept and mature the hardware to the point that human rated test equipment design and development can be based directly on the test module derived data.
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