A method was developed that allows water recycling, air treatment, thermal control, and solid residuals treatment and recycle to be removed from the usable habitat volume and placed in the walls of a radiation-shielding water wall. This design also provides a mechanism to recover and reuse water treatment (solid) residuals to strengthen the habitat shell.

The water wall bag elements in the inner liner layer of the habitat.
This provides a novel, and potentially game-changing, method for mass reuse, as well as structural advantages over current mechanical life support hardware. This method also provides radiation protection, building materials, and structural elements. By replacing mass, power, and volume of conventional life support hardware with this innovation, costs for human spaceflight have the potential to be reduced because this system removes air, water, and waste treatment hardware from the usable habitat volume.

Water-wall treatment elements are a much-enlarged version of the commercially available X-Pack hydration bag. Some water bags have evaporation membranes facing inward that provide the capability to remove water, carbon dioxide, and trace organics from the atmosphere.

Ideally, the water wall is composed of a series of membrane bags, packed as dry elements, integrated into an inflatable habitat structure wall. After launch and deployment, it is filled with water and maintained as both a freshwater supply and radiation shield. As the initial water supply is consumed, the depleted treatment bags are filled with wastewater and take on a dual role of active forward osmosis (FO) water treatment and water-wall radiation shielding.

This work was done by Michael Flynn of Ames Research Center; and Sherwin Gormly, Mona Hammoudeh, Marc Cohen, and Tra-My Justine Richardson of Universities Space Research. NASA invites companies to inquire about partnering opportunities and licensing this patented technology. Contact the Ames Technology Partnerships Office at 1-855-627-2249 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Refer to ARC-16733-1.

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the October, 2015 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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