Clarkson University professor awarded grant by Blue Origin
POTSDAM – Selma Mededovic Thagard, the Richard and Helen March Endowed Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Clarkson University, has been awarded a grant from Blue Origin.
Her grant-funded research, titled "Feasibility Study of Non-Thermal Plasma Treatment for Water VOC Removal for Space Applications," will focus on an alternative water purification technology for space flight crew needs.The International Space Station (ISS) water processor assembly is designed to produce potable water from several wastewater streams, including crew and animal respiration, humidity condensate, waste hygiene water, and urine distillate.
VOCs, including alcohol, ketone, or aldehydes, must be removed from the wastewater stream at the rate they are generated before reuse by the crew, in order to protect crew health and ensure their ability to perform mission-critical tasks.
The current state-of-the-art technology is a charcoal multi-filtration bed to remove heavy organic compounds via adsorption, followed by a packed bed catalytic oxidizer reactor operating at high temperature (above boiling) and high pressure to remove VOCs.
However, electrical discharge plasma technology has been found to be promising for water VOC removal of a variety of chemical compounds. One of its advantages is that it can be carried out in low-temperature ambient conditions, which could potentially reduce mass, energy and complexity at the system level.
In phase one of the project, Thagard's research will develop several lab-scale plasma systems to evaluate their VOC removal performance from water in space flights.
Jean S. Newell Distinguished Professor of Engineering Thomas Holsen, co-director of Clarkson’s Center for Air and Aquatic Resources Engineering and Sciences (CAARES), and his lab will provide analytical support for the grant project.
Blue Origin is a privately funded aerospace manufacturer and sub-orbital spaceflight services company headquartered in Kent, Wash., and founded in 2000 by Jeff Bezos.