NASA SBIR 2006 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 06-2 X3.02-8898
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) 239-1789

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Benjamin Mattes
3216 Richards Lane
Santa Fe, NM 87507 - 2940
(505) 474-3535

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 membranes. Reverse osmosis (RO) is a compact process that has proven its ability to remove inorganic and organic contaminants from space mission wastewater. Our Phase I feasibility study indicate that the use of low-energy composite hollow fiber RO membranes developed at Santa Fe Science and Technology resulted in a 65-80% increase in the production of purified water compared to that obtained from the corresponding low-energy RO flat-sheet membrane without sacrificing the water quality of the permeate stream. Therefore, replacing existing spiral wound membrane elements in the RO subsystem with hollow fiber membrane elements will reduce the batch processing time or enable a lower feed pressure to be employed due to the use of higher productivity membrane elements. This will lower the overall power requirement for the RO subsystem. Phase 2 will be based on expanding the size of the membrane element in order to develop several working prototype membrane elements that can eventually be mounted in the RO subsystem of the closed-loop Integrated Water Purification System. Also during Phase 2, we will explore the use of hydrophilic polymeric coatings to determine whether it is possible to minimize the rate of membrane fouling due to the high concentration of organics in the wastewater feed stream.

POTENTIAL 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, membrane elements have been successfully used in municipal and residential POU/POE water treatment systems (desalination of tap water, 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.

POTENTIAL NON-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.

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 Generated on 08-02-07 14:39