Jared Leidich
Leidichj@gmail.com

NASA Johnson Space Center, Regolith For Lunar Urine Solids in Habitats (RFLUSH)

The Project:


RFLUSH is a concept level project adapting technologies originally developed through Engineers Without Borders to filter water in rural Africa to the lunar outposted proposed during the Bush era as part of the constellation program.

From ICES regolith whitepaper [2]:

 

A long-term lunar outpost will require sustainable life support technologies that are capable of functioning for years with minimum resupply and maintenance. While life support resources such as water and air will remain in short supply, the availability of gravity, energy, and natural resources on the lunar surface allow for innovation in the design of outpost technologies, potentially including the adoption of terrestrial technologies previously not feasible for short duration microgravity flight.

One technology with potential for such innovation is the water recovery system. Current spacecraft water recovery systems rely on oxidizing pretreatment chemicals to stabilize wastewater, as microgravity compatible distillation or filtration systems are prone to fouling and failure.

Instead, the lunar outpost may consider using simple and robust terrestrial technologies such as media filters and solar disinfection, and distillation to recover water, taking advantage of the ready availability of lunar regolith, gravity, and solar energy. Therefore, rather than stabilizing wastewater such as urine for disposal, the wastewater could be encouraged to foul the media and form biofilms and precipitates that can then be filtered and the water reclaimed for future use.

 

References:

1. Leidich, J., Thomas, E. A., Klaus, D. A Novel Testing Protocol for Evaluating Particle Behavior in Fluid Flow Under Simulated Reduced Gravity Conditions, ICES, Savannah Georgia, 2009

2. Evan A. Thomas, Jared Leidich, David M. Klaus, A Sustainable Regolith-Based Water Recovery Concept for the Lunar Outpost

My Role:


The project concept was developed by NASA Scientist Evan Thomas derived from the patented EWB technology called BYOW or "Bring Your Own Water". I worked briefly on the BYOW system with Dr. Thomas through the Rwanda team in EWB and then applied for microgravity funding to test the concept as a lunar application on the NASA C-9 microgravity airplane. I won the microgravity flight in 2009 where myself, Dr. Thomas and a team of two others began teh concept investigation through low-gravoty packed bed experiments using glass beads representing lunar regolith filtration media particles.

As an off-shoot of this project a machine was built to simulate reduced gravity particle motion in fluid which I lead the development of. This project is currently being reviewed by the NASA legal department for a patent application.