NASA has been developing Bioregenerative Life Support Systems (BLSS) to contribute to life support, supplying food and oxygen, while removing carbon dioxide as complement of physical and chemical life support systems for the future space exploration, Martian missions, and the construction of lunar bases. As plant-growing systems mature and expand for future exploration missions, the ability to generate, analyze, and manage nutrient solutions is required. Thus., an in-situ capability is needed to analyze plant nutrient solutions or feed water to better understand and manage plant nutrient delivery on a near-real-time basis. The technology would need to be robust and miniaturized, operate with low power, and have minimal consumables to augment plant growth and research capabilities for the future missions. The system would also need to be safe for operating in spaceflight environments.
Lynntech has previously developed a reagent-regenerative, microgravity-compatible, low-power ion analyzer (ion chromatograph). In addition to its advantages of high sensitivity and requiring neither sample preparation nor reagent resupply, it could be operated in microgravity and partial gravity. By adapting engineering advances carried out in Lynntech’s electrochemical devices, a miniaturized, robust, safe, ion analyzer will be developed that can be operated inline, eliminating the need for sample injection by astronauts. In the Phase I Lynntech will demonstrate the feasibility of the proposed approach with a breadboard system. An automated prototype will be delivered to NASA during Phase II.
Direct NASA applications of the reagent-regenerative, microgravity-compatible, miniaturized ion analyzer (RMMIA) include the on-board elemental analysis device to analyze plant nutrient solutions or feed water to better understand and manage plant nutrient delivery on a near-real-time basis. The multi-analyte capability of the proposed technology will expand to measurements of ionic species in condensate, potable water, wastewater, byproducts of water treatment for manned space exploration missions beyond low Earth orbit.
Successful development of the reagent-regenerative, microgravity-compatible, miniaturized ion analyzer (RMMIA) as a portable device will have a high commercial applicability to a wide range of industries where water quality assurance and control is important, and where water quality analysis of inorganic pollutants in both environmental and potable water sources is critical.