NASA’s current efforts are focused on long-duration flights to the Moon, Mars and beyond. Potable water is a fundamental requirement for crew consumption, specific hardware applications and more recently for plant growth in space. It is imperative to the success of space mission that potable water be protected from microbial proliferation, especially in the case of stored water for extended periods of time. Iodine and ionic silver are used in potable water on the International space station (ISS) and on space shuttle missions. These chemicals are able to prevent microbial growth but should be used in low concentrations to avoid human toxicity. Therefore, alternative non-toxic biocides are needed for spacecraft potable water systems. In the proposed Phase I effort, chitosan-based disinfectants will be developed to ensure that the potable water is safe to drink during long-term space missions.
Water quality control is a critical aspect of manned space missions. The chitosan based biocide will ensure water potability and prevent microbial growth for extended periods of time without a loss in efficacy. The proposed disinfectant will require less processing as compared to current state of the art biocides, as it can be consumed by humans without concern for long term toxic effects.
The chitosan material can be applied as a coating to tanks and in pipes, added to transported water supplies to ensure potability for the end user. This will benefit water availability in the developing world and in remote areas, as it will provide a means for practical removal of microorganisms.