NASA SBIR 2006 Solicitation


SUBTOPIC TITLE:Water Processing and Waste Management
PROPOSAL TITLE:High Recovery, Low Fouling Reverse Osmosis Membrane Elements for Space Wastewater Reclamation

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Santa Fe Science and Technology, Inc.
3216 Richards Lane
Santa Fe, NM 87507-2940
(505) 474-3500

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Ian D Norris
3216 Richards Lane
Santa Fe, NM  87507-2940
(505) 474-3500

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT ( Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
With the expected extension of duration of the space missions outlined in NASA's Vision of Space Exploration, such as a manned mission to Mars or the establishment of a lunar base, the need to produce potable water from onboard wastewater streams in a closed-loop system becomes critical for life support and health of crew members. Reverse osmosis (RO) is a compact process that has proven its ability to remove inorganic and organic contaminants from space mission wastewater. The objective of this Phase I study is to ascertain whether composite hollow fiber membrane elements are a more efficient alternative to the current generation of spiral wound membrane elements for the reclamation of space mission wastewater. In particular, the use of low-energy composite hollow fiber membrane elements being developed at SFST for treating multi-component (both inorganic and organic contaminants) wastewater streams found aboard spacecraft will be investigated. The higher membrane surface area of these composite hollow fiber membrane elements enables the RO membrane element to have 30% higher water productivity at substantially higher single-pass recoveries (60-75% vs 10-20% for spiral wound elements). Furthermore, we will also investigate possible solutions to minimize fouling of these hollow fiber membranes by increasing the hydrophilicity of the membrane surface using a variety of surface modification techniques. Such hollow fiber membranes are expected to show better resistance to fouling by hydrophobic compounds, and thus these membranes will be less likely to be clogged by potential foulants. These improvements to the RO membrane element have the potential to decrease the mass, size and power requirements of the RO subsystem, and also decrease the size of the pre-treatment unit.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS ( Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The technology is specifically targeted towards the wastewater treatment systems on board spacecraft to produce potable water on long duration missions, such as the establishment of bases on the lunar surface or human planetary exploration. Reverse osmosis technology is well suited for wastewater treatment in space because it has the advantages of high rejection of contaminants, durability for removing inorganic contaminants with high water recoveries, a compact configuration and minimal re-supply of consumables for continuous operation when to compared to other physical-chemical treatment processes. The current design of the RO subsystem in NASA's Integrated Water Recovery System employs spiral wound membrane elements. Composite hollow fiber membrane elements have many advantages over spiral wound membrane elements for reclamation of space mission wastewater applications (i.e. higher module productivity/lower feed pressure, higher recovery and reduced mass). These advantages should make the use of composite hollow fiber membrane elements a viable alternative to spiral wound membrane elements being considered for the Integrated Water Recovery System.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS ( Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Reverse osmosis membranes consist of a dense surface layer (50 ? 500 nm) that is highly permeable to water, but highly impermeable to dissolved salts, organic molecules, microorganisms, and colloids. Consequently, reverse osmosis membrane elements have been successfully used in municipal water treatment (desalination of brackish water and seawater desalination), industrial water treatment (power generation/boiler feed water, food & beverages, wastewater treatment and reclamation), and producing ultra-pure water for microelectronics and semiconductor manufacturing. End-users of reverse osmosis membranes continue to look for products that perform at lower pressures and have improved fouling resistance. If this project is successful, these composite hollow fiber membranes offer significant performance improvements over spiral wound membrane elements in terms of being able to operate at lower pressures or by operating with lower numbers of membrane elements with the additional benefit of reduced fouling.

NASA's technology taxonomy has been developed by the SBIR-STTR program to disseminate awareness of proposed and awarded R/R&D in the agency. It is a listing of over 100 technologies, sorted into broad categories, of interest to NASA.

Waste Processing and Reclamation

Form Printed on 09-08-06 18:19