With respect to non-governmental commercial applications, this specialized, innovative technology cannot compete effectively against large-scale distillation or reverse osmosis based desalination processes. However, the AAES technology is ideal for smaller scale or specialty applications, due to its simplicity, small size, and ability to rapidly produce pure water and concentrate salts. These applications include routine or emergency water production and reduction of wastewater disposal volumes aboard ships, at industrial sites, or where nuclear wastes require concentration and confinement. Other potential commercial applications include the recovery of valuable salts from concentrated solutions where relatively low temperature recovery is required, or the de-watering of highly hazardous slurries prior to disposal, to minimize volume.
The NASA application for this technology will be as Flight Hardware for deployment in support of future, long duration exploration objectives beyond Low Earth Orbit (LEO) where efficient, reliable, and low-maintenance water reclamation systems will play a critical role in reducing ECLSS logistics. The Advanced Air Evaporation System (AAES) technology provides a simple, microgravity compatible method to recover water from highly contaminated wastewater and brines without concern for organic and inorganic solids. The use of reusable wicks, heat exchangers, and an efficient thermoelectric heat pump will lower the ESM for this technology compared to previous air evaporation technologies. Such a water recovery system will be purchased as Flight Hardware by NASA, or by an aerospace contracting firm on behalf of NASA, resulting in enhanced capability in support of manned missions beyond LEO, where minimization of expendables, reliability, and simple operation are highly valued.