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Technical Paper

Colorimetric-Solid Phase Extraction (C-SPE): In-Flight Methodologies for the Facile Determination of Trace Level Indicators of Water Quality

At present, spacecraft water quality is assessed when samples collected on the International Space Station (ISS) are returned to Earth. Several months, however, may pass between sample collection and analysis, potentially compromising sample integrity by risking degradation. For example, iodine and silver, which are the respective biocides used in the U.S. and Russian spacecraft potable water systems, must be held at levels that prevent bacterial growth, while avoiding adverse effects on crew health. A comparable need exists for the detection of many heavy metals, toxic organic compounds, and microorganisms. Lead, cadmium, and nickel have been found, for instance, in the ISS potable water system at amounts that surpass existent requirements. There have been similar occurrences with hazardous organic compounds like formaldehyde and ethylene glycol. Microorganism counts above acceptable limits have also been reported in a few instances.
Journal Article

Microgravity Evaluation of Colorimetric-Solid Phase Extraction for the Measurement of Total I (Iodine, Iodide, and Triiodide) in Spacecraft Drinking Water

We are developing a drinking water test kit based on colorimetric-solid phase extraction (C-SPE) for use onboard the International Space Station (ISS) and on future Lunar and/or Mars missions. C-SPE involves measuring the change in diffuse reflectance of indicator disks following their exposure to a water sample. We previously demonstrated the effectiveness of C-SPE in measuring iodine in microgravity. This analytical method has now been extended to encompass the measurement of total I (i.e., iodine, iodide, and triiodide). This objective was accomplished by introducing an oxidizing agent to convert iodide and triiodide to iodine, which is then measured using the indicator disks previously developed for iodine. We report here the results of a recent series of C-9 microgravity tests of this method. The results demonstrate that C-SPE technology is poised to meet the total I monitoring requirements of the international space program.
Journal Article

Solid Phase Extraction Mechanistic Studies of the Ag(I)-DMABR Complex: Improving Efficiency of the C-SPE Standard Method of Analysis

Aqueous silver(I) is added at trace levels (0.1 – 1.0 mg/L) to spacecraft potable water as a biocide. Development of a method that can be deployed on orbit and in future Lunar and Mars missions is therefore central to maintenance of safe drinking water and crew health. To address this need, our laboratory has created an analytical technique that couples a selective sorption process based on solid phase extraction (SPE) with the quantitative measurement of the extract by a hand-held diffuse reflection spectrophotometer. This technique, referred to as colorimetric-solid phase extraction (C-SPE), enables the low level detection (limit of detection ∼5 ppb) of silver(I) by metering 1.0 mL of a water sample through a reagent-impregnated (i.e., 5-(p-dimethyl-aminobenzylidene)rhodanine, DMABR) SPE membrane. The total workup time for the analysis is only 60-90 s.