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Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Tech Transfer

Development of the Integrated Water Recovery Assembly (IRA) for Recycling Habitation Wastewater

Completed Technology Project

Project Description

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Paragon Space Development Corporation and our partner Research Institution Texas Tech University (TTU) propose to continue development of a spacecraft habitat wastewater recycling system that integrates 1) a TTU Membrane Aerated Biological Reactor (MABR), 2) Nafion Membrane Water Purification (NWP) distillation technology, and 3) gas-phase trace contaminant removal (GTCR) to realize a low-mass, low-volume, closed-loop, sustainable, and ultra-reliable water recycling and purification system. It is the coupling of these well developed and understood processes that is novel and offers a significant advantage over state of the art (SOA) spacecraft water processing systems. The Integrated Water Recovery Assembly (IRA) will reduce consumable consumption by removing the need for hazardous chemical pretreat and may eliminate the need for aqueous-phase treatment now used to reach potable standards. It will also significantly reduce waste generation and increase material recycling by converting carbon, hydrogen, and nitrogen species into useful products such as H2O, N2, and CO2. IRA will be less complex, require fewer consumables, be more robust, and more sustainable than SOA systems. IRA should produce a concentrated and dried solid waste stream that is always contained and consists of salts and residual organic matter. MABR and NWP have developed as independent subsystems for human spaceflight wastewater processing but their unique attributes have not been optimized to function together as an integrated wastewater recycling system. Neither is individually capable of producing potable water, but combined with mature GTCR technology, we propose that IRA represents a significant advancement over SOA of the art spacecraft wastewater processing systems. In summary, the innovation we propose is to combine and optimize all three stages into a novel integrated system capable of processing habitation wastewater and producing clean water for all habitat needs. More »

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