May 21, 2013 – Reactive Innovations, LLC has been awarded a contract with NASA to develop a silver ion biocide delivery system to disinfect drinking water. U.S. space exploration missions have long considered returning to the Moon and exploration of Mars that challenge life support systems. For these long duration missions, NASA is interested in replacing the iodine water treatment system with ionic silver. Although iodine treated water has been used successfully with the International Space Station, its use requires that the iodine be removed before being consumed by astronauts due to its adverse effects on the thyroid. For long duration exploration missions, minimal mass systems are desired that lessen logistical supply requirements for storing and distributing potable water. In particular, it is imperative that an effective biocide is used that prevents microbial growth, biofilm formation, and microbially induced corrosion in the water storage and distribution systems. To address these needs, Reactive Innovations, LLC will develop an electrochemical silver ion generator that produces an effective biocide concentration throughout the water storage and distribution system. The generator and system control will also minimize spurious deposition of silver on the wetted components of the water system maintaining a viable biocide activity to prevent biofilm growth. Materials compatibility testing will be examined with the generator to assess long duration operation.
A potable water treatment process is needed to prevent microbial growth and biofilm formation in the water storage and distribution system for long duration missions. Silver ions have been proven by NASA to be effective for such microbial control, however, there remain significant challenges with the biocide delivery system and materials of construction that are compatible with silver. Reactive’s process produces an effective delivery system with a control system that prevents silver deposition on the wetted materials of construction. This offers expanded degrees of freedom for designing the water system.