The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is seeking technologies for the in‑line measurement of ionic silver (Ag+) in spacecraft potable water systems. Ionic silver is currently baselined as the biocide to replace iodine for microbial control with the goal of maintaining the water quality during human exploration missions. To address this need, InnoSense LLC (ISL) is developing an innovative nanomaterial-enabled Silver Monitor (SilMonTM) in collaboration with Yale University. SilMon is based on: (1) customized recognition molecules (RMs), (2) ISL’s patented microelectronic sensor platform, (3) an in-line sensor array design, and (4) artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled recognition algorithm. In Phase I, ISL developed a SilMon working model and demonstrated feasibility of achieving its performance targets. In Phase II, ISL will focus on optimization and scale-up of SilMon following fine-tuning of performance through rigorous testing. AI-enabled package design, and construction of a SilMon prototype for testing under simulated spacecraft potable water systems are also planned. At the end of Phase II, a compact prototype will be delivered to NASA for further evaluation.
SilMon will: (1) Provide accurate and real-time Ag+ concentration monitoring; (2) Help optimize the microbial control in the water processor assembly (WPA) by providing feedback to maintain an adequate level of Ag+ in the water; and (3) Ensure the safety of potable water. Additionally, SilMon’s array design and the versatility of sensing chemistry will allow it to target additional analytes with simple modifications. This will further enhance the monitoring capability for potable water quality control and ensure crew safety.
SilMon will have significant commercial applications in the food industry, water and environmental monitoring, and water purification systems. SilMon can be further modified with recognition molecules targeting other ionic or organic species for broader water or environmental monitoring purpose.