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Coiled Brine Recovery Assembly (CoBRA) Project

Project Introduction

The Coiled Brine Recovery Assembly (CoBRA) project will result in a proof-of-concept demonstration for a lightweight, compact, affordable, regenerable and disposable solution to brine water recovery. The heart of CoBRA is an evaporator that produces water vapor from brine. This evaporator leverages a novel design that enables passive transport of brine from place to place within the system. While it will be necessary to build or modify a system for testing the CoBRA concept, the emphasis of this...

Technologies Within this Project

Technology Details: Coiled Brine Recovery Assembly (CoBRA)

This technology is categorized as a hardware subsystem for manned spaceflight

Description of technology:

Brine water recovery is the final link in achieving closure of the water loop. It's a game-changer; if mastered, a technology gap is closed in providing a water supply for manned deep-space exploration missions. It is a challenging problem, however. When wastewater brines are dried, the residual is inevitably a viscous goo, laden with particles of precipitated solids. This brine residual causes problems for traditional recovery systems: clogging Pitot tubes, causing bearings to seize, fouling he...

Capabilities provided:

Water recovery via brine processing is an absolute necessity for closure of the water loop. The fundamental problem faced by all water recovery systems when exceeding ~85% recovery is the precipitation of solids. In order for a brine processor to be reliable, it must be tolerant of the solids that are inherently generated during the process. This means minimizing the number of moving parts that come in contact with brine solids, and avoiding manipulation of brine residuals as a critical link in ...

Potential applications:

This technology is primarily meant to recover water from concentrated wastewater brines. The current state-of-the-art water recovery level is 85%. Brine water recovery enables recovery levels in excess of this mark, with the potential to reach nearly 100% recovery of available water. While CoBRA technology is tailored to address the challenges of handling hazardous liquids in a microgravity spacecraft environment, it could be used to solve terrestrial problems as well. Potential applications on ...

Anticipated Benefits

Benefits to NASA funded missions

After the Coiled Brine Recovery  Assembly (CoBRA} undergoes necessary further development, the technology could be integrated into the International Space Station (ISS) life support system as a brine processor. This has the potential to recover 575 pounds of water per year from brine. This represents roughly $10M per year in savings on water resupply costs.

Benefits to NASA unfunded & planned missions

While the primary function of the CoBRA is to recover water from concentrated wastewater brines generated by a primary processor, the CoBRA may be able to function as a primary processor itself. Current state-of-the-art primary processors rely on rotating drums, pitot pumps, lobe compressors, and other sensitive machinery for operation. This equipment has a history of becoming fouled due to solids precipitation. In the case of a failure of the primary processor, the CoBRA could serve as a backup, providing dissimilar redundancy to ensure crew survival. Upon successful demonstration of a proof-...

Benefits to the nation

Coiled Brine Recovery Assembly (CoBRA) technology also has the potential to be used for water recovery from contaminated wastes in the chemical, nuclear, and hydraulic fracturing industries.

U.S. Work Locations and Key Partners

NASA Organizations Performing Work Role Location
  • Johnson Space Center (JSC)
Lead Center Houston, TX
  • Ames Research Center (ARC)
Supporting Center Moffett Field, CA

U.S. States with Work:

 
U.S. States and Territories with Work on this Project
California Texas

Organizational Responsibility

Responsible Mission Directorate:

Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD)

Lead Center:

Johnson Space Center (JSC)

Responsible Program:

Center Innovation Fund: JSC CIF (also includes JSC IRAD) Program

Project Management

Program Executive:

  • John Falker

Program Manager:

  • Ronald Clayton

Project Manager:

  • Stuart Pensinger

Principal Investigator:

  • Stuart Pensinger

Project Technology Areas

Primary:

  • Human Health, Life Support, and Habitation Systems (TA 6)
    • Environmental Control and Life Support Systems and Habitation Systems (TA 6.1)
    • Water Recovery and Management (TA 6.1.2)
    • Brine Processing (TA 6.1.2.3)

Project Duration

Start Date: Dec 2013

End Date: Dec 2015

Project Technology Maturity

  • Start
  • Current
  • Estimated End
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
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  • 5
  • 6
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  • 9
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