A report describes recent accomplishments of a continuing effort to develop the vapor-phase catalytic ammonia removal (VPCAR) process for recycling wastewater for consumption by humans aboard a spacecraft in transit to Mars. The VPCAR process is implemented by a system of highly integrated design in which some power consumption is accepted as a cost of minimizing the volume and mass of a wastewater-processing system and eliminating the need to resupply water. The core of the system is a wiped-film rotating-disk (WFRD) evaporator, which removes inorganic salts and nonvolatile organic compounds from the wastewater stream and concentrates these contaminants into a recycle-and-bleed stream. The WFRD evaporator is also part of a subsystem that distills water from the wastewater stream. This subsystem operates in a vacuum-vapor/compression distillation configuration in the temperature range from 20 to 65 °C. Volatile organic compounds and ammonia, distilled along with water, are oxidized to CO2, H2O, and N2O in a packed-bed, hightemperature catalytic reactor placed at the outlet of the vapor-phase compressor of the distillation subsystem. A VPCAR engineering demonstration unit is expected to be included in a humanrated simulation of a mission to Mars.
This work was done by Michael Flynn, John Fisher, and Mark Kliss of Ames Research Center; Bruce Borchers of Orbital Sciences Corp.; Badawi Tleimat and Maher Tleimat of Water Reuse Technology Inc.; and Gregory Quinn, James Fort, Tim Nalette, Gale Baker, and Joseph Genovese of Hamilton Sundstrand Space Systems International, Inc. For more information, download the Technical Support Package (free white paper) at www.techbriefs.com/tsp under the Mechanics/Machinery category.
Inquiries concerning rights for the commercial use of this invention should be addressed to the Ames Technology Partnerships Division at (650) 604-2954. Refer to ARC-14607-1.