NASA SBIR 2004 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 04 B3.10-9123
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Sensors for Advanced Human Support Technology
PROPOSAL TITLE: Second Generation of Reagentless Carbon Analyzer for Water Quality Monitoring

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Lynntech, Inc.
7607 Eastmark Drive, Suite 102
College Station, TX 77840-4027

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Jinseong Kim
7607 Eastmark Drive, Ste. 102
College Station, TX 77840-4027

Water reclamation is one of the basic functions of the closed regenerative life support systems needed for manned space missions. To assure the quality of the recycled water, particularly for human consumption, monitoring of key water quality parameters, such as total organic carbon (TOC), pH, and conductivity is critical. TOC instruments are used to assess the levels of organic contaminants present in recycled water. NASA seeks for significant improvements in miniaturization, accuracy, precision, and operational reliability, as well as long life, real-time measurement, in-line operation, self-calibration, reduction of expendables, low energy consumption, and minimal maintenance for those monitors. Current available TOC analyzers do not meet those standards. This proposal concerns the development of a small, effective, energy-efficient, reagentless carbon analyzer (RCA). It will combine (i) electrochemical technology to produce two key elements in TOC analysis, acid and oxidant, and (ii) photolysis for the complete oxidation of organic carbons to carbon dioxide. It will also incorporate a microfluidic design. During the Phase I effort, the feasibility of the proposed system will be demonstrated. During the Phase II project, a microgravity-compatible, automated system will be fabricated and delivered to NASA.

Successful development of the second generation of a reagentless carbon analyzer (RCA) will lead to water quality monitoring assuring that the chemical contents of the water environment of the astronaut crew habitat falls within acceptable limits for potable or hygienic water, which is essential to enable human planetary exploration missions ranging from a return to the Moon and through an initial Mars mission, including using the International Space Station.

Total organic carbon (TOC) analysis is a well-defined and commonly used analytical tool. Many water utilities monitor TOC to determine raw water quality or to evaluate the effectiveness of processes designed to remove organic carbons. Successful development of the reagentless carbon analyzer (RCA) as a hand-held device will have a high commercial applicability to a wide range of industries where water quality assurance and control is important, such as semiconductor industries or pharmaceutical industries.