This apparatus could detect biomarkers or chemical waste in soil.

In a field test, the prototype HFE was made to process a slurry consisting of

4 L of sterile water mixed with 4 L of Atacama-desert soil, which contains such low concentrations of recoverable microorganisms as to be nearly impossible to analyze in the absence of an extraction-and- concentration process. After 15 minutes of recycling the slurry in the HFE, the maximum loading of the filter was reached. The filter was removed and dried and found to contain 100 g of fine particulate material, which, in turn, was removed from the filter in a laboratory for further analysis. Whereas traditional extraction protocols yielded no microbial colony-forming units, the extract from the HFE filter yielded microbes too numerous to count on standard growth plates. On the basis of development plans and this result, it is expected that cellular-extract concentrations obtained by use of the fully developed HFE will be at least 103 times those obtained by means of state-of-the art extraction methods heretofore used in environmental microbiology.

This work was done by Adrian Ponce of Caltech and Donald Obenhuber of National Research Council for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

In accordance with Public Law 96-517, the contractor has elected to retain title to this invention. Inquiries concerning rights for its commercial use should be addressed to:

Innovative Technology Assets Management


Mail Stop 202-233

4800 Oak Grove Drive

Pasadena, CA 91109-8099

E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Refer to NPO-44751, volume and number of this NASA Tech Briefs issue, and the page number.

This Brief includes a Technical Support Package (TSP).

Hydrocyclone/Filter for Concentrating Biomarkers From Soil (reference NPO-44751) is currently available for download from the TSP library.

Please Login at the top of the page to download.

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