A solid-phase extraction (SPE) process has been developed for removing alcohols, carboxylic acids, aldehydes, ketones, amines, and other polar organic compounds from water. This process can be either a subprocess of a water-reclamation process or a means of extracting organic compounds from water samples for gas-chromatographic analysis.

This SPE process is an attractive alternative to an Environmental Protection Administration liquid-liquid extraction process that generates some pollution and does not work in a microgravitational environment. In this SPE process, one forces a water sample through a resin bed by use of positive pressure on the upstream side and/or suction on the downstream side, thereby causing organic compounds from the water to be adsorbed onto the resin. If gas-chromatographic analysis is to be done, the resin is dried by use of a suitable gas, then the adsorbed compounds are extracted from the resin by use of a solvent. Unlike the liquid-liquid process, the SPE process works in both microgravity and Earth gravity. In comparison with the liquid-liquid process, the SPE process is more efficient, extracts a wider range of organic compounds, generates less pollution, and costs less.

This work was done by Richard Sauer of Johnson Space Center, Jeffrey Rutz of Krug Life Sciences, and John Schultz of Wyle Laboratories.

Inquiries concerning rights for the commercial use of this invention should be addressed to the Patent Counsel, Johnson Space Center, (281) 483-0837. Refer to MSC-22899.

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the August, 2005 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

Read more articles from the archives here.