Water Filtering Press Release
This NASA press release details a very important technology for
the long-term development of the moon. Water constitutes most of the mass
of consumables, so it's very important to us to have
an efficient system for filtering and cleaning water. If there is a good way to reuse the water, we can significantly reduce our requirements for consumables.
Headquarters, Washington, DC May 3, 1995
Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL
SPACE STATION COMPLETES MAJOR LIFE SUPPORT SYSTEM TESTS
The international Space Station's water purification
system has passed a series of tests designed to evaluate
new components and configurations of the Water Recovery
System and to challenge the system's capability to remove
bacteria, fungi and for the first time, live viruses.
The test series, begun in August 1994 at NASA's
Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL, characterized
the physical, chemical and microbiological composition of
the Space Station's expected waste water (shower water,
oral hygiene, urine distillate, wet shave, human
perspiration). The tests produced recycled water using new
performance procedures and hardware dictated by changes in
Space Station requirements and lessons learned during
earlier water system testing.
The tests featured the first use of a new fully-
integrated water processor which automatically tested for
the presence of chemical substances, such as organic
carbons, iodine and overall water purity. Also, special
computer software was developed for automated control very
similar to that planned for use on the Space Station.
"This test allowed design engineers to assess the water
purification system under the operating conditions that
would be expected on the international Space Station,"
explained Don Holder, life support design engineer in
Marshall's Thermal Control and Life Support Systems
Division and principal investigator for the test. "Overall,
the system was very effective in producing high quality
potable water from waste water," said Holder.
"The purification equipment effectively removed high
concentrations of microbes in the waste water and provided
water with little detectable bacteria and fungi," explained
Monsi Roman, life support system microbiologist. "The test
series was very challenging, and we are very pleased with
the excellent results and overall efficiency of the
The final phase of the water purification tests
included, for the first time, an assessment of the system's
capability to eliminate viral particles. During the five-
day viral test, high concentrations of viruses were
steadily introduced in the system. While special filters
are used to remove larger contaminants such as skin
particles and hair fragments, the smaller viral organisms,
along with fungi and bacteria, were destroyed by exposure
to the purification system's synthetic cleaning resins and
high temperature processor. Throughout the viral test,
water samples were collected in order to study the
effectiveness of each element of the system and evaluate
its role in viral removal.
The viruses selected for the test, MS2, T-1, VD13 and
23356-B1 can only infect specific bacteria. These viruses
are common and non-pathogenic for humans. MS2 is
frequently used by the Environmental Protection Agency as
an indicator for determining the viral effectiveness of
drinking water disinfection processes.
"The viral removal capability of the water recycling
system appears excellent based upon our preliminary test
results," said Christon Hurst, a virologist of the
Environmental Protection Agency's Drinking Water Research
Division in Cincinnati, OH. Hurst provided on-site support
to the viral tests series and supervised post-test
evaluation of the data.
Additional testing of the water purification system is
planned to determine the actual lifespan of some system
hardware, such as filters. The water processor is
scheduled to be launched in the U.S. habitation module in
Marshall is conducting a variety of water purification
tests in support of the Space Station Program Office.
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