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Technical Paper

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lyophilization for Water Recovery III, System Design

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

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

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.
Technical Paper

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

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.
Technical Paper

Current and Planned Modifications to the Vapor Phase Catalytic Ammonia Removal (VPCAR) Technology in Response to the MSFC ECLS Long Duration Test Results

The Vapor Phase Catalytic Ammonia Removal (VPCAR) Technology has undergone long duration testing at MSFC. The results of this testing revealed several areas in which the VPCAR Technology could be improved and those improvements are summarized here. These improvements include the replacement of several parts with units that are more durable, redesign of several pieces which proved to have mechanical weaknesses, and incorporation of some new designs in order to prevent other potential problems.
Technical Paper

Assessment of the Vapor Phase Catalytic Ammonia Removal (VPCAR) Technology at the MSFC ECLS Test Facility

The Vapor Phase Catalytic Ammonia Removal (VPCAR) technology has been previously discussed as a viable option for the Exploration Water Recovery System. This technology integrates a phase change process with catalytic oxidation in the vapor phase to produce potable water from exploration mission wastewaters. A developmental prototype VPCAR was designed, built and tested under funding provided by a National Research Announcement (NRA) project. The core technology, a Wiped Film Rotating Device (WFRD) was provided by Water Reuse Technologies under the NRA, whereas Hamilton Sundstrand Space Systems International performed the hardware integration and acceptance test of the system. Personnel at the Ames Research Center performed initial systems test of the VPCAR using ersatz solutions. To assess the viability of this hardware for Exploration Life Support (ELS) applications, the hardware has been modified and tested at the MSFC ECLS Test Facility.
Technical Paper

Advanced Development of the Direct Osmotic Concentration System

Direct osmotic concentration (DOC) is an integrated membrane treatment process designed for the reclamation of spacecraft wastewater. The system includes forward osmosis (FO), membrane evaporation, reverse osmosis (RO) and an aqueous phase catalytic oxidation (APCO) post-treatment unit. This document describes progress in the third year of a four year project to advance hardware maturity of this technology to a level appropriate for human rated testing. The current status of construction and testing of the final deliverable is covered and preliminary calculations of equivalent system mass are funished.