Tech Briefs

Researchers at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center have developed a system that reduces the entrapment risks associated with a pool or spa’s recirculation drain. The technology prevents hazards caused by suction forces on the body, hair, clothing, or other articles. Employing a novel configuration of drainage openings along with parallel paths for water flow, the system redistributes force over a much larger area, minimizing suction force at any localized area. With more efficient drainage and recirculation, the device improves performance, increases safety, and decreases operating costs. The technology can also provide thorough chemical mixing, which improves processes in systems and allows continued operation in the event of localized debris clogging a portion of the recirculation area. All of these benefits come without a protrusive drain cover, leaving the area safe and aesthetically pleasing.

This drain system was originally created to increase safety in neutral buoyancy tanks. As opposed to a traditional cover for a drainage system, this device is comprised of many long, narrow channels through which water can flow. The openings are configured in such a way that there is never a suction force large enough to trap one or multiple human bodies. In addition, the channels are deep enough that hair or other objects cannot become entangled or knotted because they cannot reconnect once in the channel. The drain system can be patterned to suit any pool (or spa, tank, container, etc.), and it can be placed on the floor, walls, or both. The technology is suitable for mass production methods such as extruding or molding.

This system is durable and easy to build from inexpensive components. In addition, it has broad compatibility because it is designed to be used as a new system, or to retrofit an existing system.

Applications for this technology include use in pools and spas as a drainage recirculation system; chemical/food processing for increased efficiency and safety in mixing; aerospace to stabilize oscillations and vibrations in fuel tanks; aquariums and habitats; and training facilities as underwater tanks or pools used for training divers or astronauts (weightless operations in space).

NASA is actively seeking licensees to commercialize this technology. Please contact Sammy A. Nabors at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to initiate licensing discussions. Follow this link for more information: http://technology.nasa.gov/patent/TB2016/MFS-TOPS-57.

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