Development of a NASA prototype unit-dynaJets


Source: Dynaflow, Inc.

DYNAFLOW, INC. has successfully developed a prototype water reclamation and disinfection unit for NASA Advanced Life Support Systems. The prototype loop design is based on DYNAFLOW’s cavitating jet technology using the DYNAJETS® developed through funding provided by NASA. Through this development, the capability of the DYNAJETS® to both oxidize organic compounds and to disinfect contaminated liquids was demonstrated. As a final product of the project, the prototype of a laboratory disinfection unit was designed and built for further testing by NASA scientists.

Newly developed prototype unit. The system is composed of a pump, an electric motor, a reaction chamber with the DYNAJETS®, a reservoir, and an optional bubble separator.

A critical product of any life support system is water. It is estimated that 12,000 kg of expendables are required to sustain a single person for one year in space of which water comprises 86%. Thus, it is imperative that water be recycled in a reliable and efficient manner with minimal use of expendables. Technology used on the International Space Station consisting of conventional physico-chemical processes, has a water recovery efficiency of 80-90%. However, the level of re-supply and use of expendables remains too large for long duration remote space applications such as future expeditions to Mars or to lunar bases.

The cavitation generated hydrodynamically using our DYNAJETS® cavitating jets produces cavitation activated reactions in water resulting in the creation of highly effective oxidizing hydroxyl radicals. This is very similar to sonochemistry in ultrasonic devices, which has also been shown to affect various microorganisms adversely. Jet-induced oxidation of aqueous organic compounds in the laboratory can however be obtained with two orders of magnitude greater energy efficiency than ultrasonic devices. The DYNAJETS® cavitating jet system operates without moving parts except for a pump operated at modest pressures, and requires little or no expendables. One of the DYNAJETS® cavitating jet systems, the DYNASWIRL®, is able to simultaneously accomplish all three water reclamation functions; TOC reduction, disinfection, and oxygenation.

The DYNAJETS® were very effective in disinfecting microorganisms such as E. coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, B. subtilis, and Pseudomonas. For instance, E. coli tests repeatedly showed about five orders reduction within a 45 to 60-minute period. Destruction of chemical compound such as alcohol and acetone was also confirmed as well as reduction of total organics carbon (TOC) in raw hygiene wastewater stimulants and the biological reactor effluent provided by NASA. Oxygenation was enhanced with the use of the DYNASWIRL® through suction of air into the core of the generated vortex. The removal efficiency of acetone by cavitating jets was compared to other advanced oxidation processes such as hydrogen peroxide and ultraviolet (UV) light using a medium pressure mercury lamp, ozone and UV from a low-pressure mercury lamp, and ozone and hydrogen peroxide (Peroxone). The comparison on a laboratory scale test showed that the energy required for 90% reduction of acetone could be twenty times less than that of the other methods.

The need for simple economic means of drinking water disinfection and purification are growing as the demand increases while potable water supplies decrease and concerns grow about the potential hazards of chlorination by-products. The DYNAJETS® cavitating jet system based on an inexpensive hydro-mechanical cavitation should find a very large number of commercial and terrestrial applications as well. In contrast to other water remediation techniques, the new systems economically and efficiently achieve both removal of microorganisms to drinking water standards and significant reductions in organic pollutants without introduction of potentially toxic by-products. Such a technology could be used for treatment of drinking water, groundwater, wastewater, industrial process water, as a stand-alone process or as a part of a treatment train.

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