The development of devices, processes and systems that protect and preserve the sustainability of natural resources and positively influence the growth, development and survival of a given organism, population or ecological community through scientific study of the behavioral contribution of the air, water, minerals, organisms and all other external factors surrounding and affecting an ecological system.
CubeSat Compatible High Resolution Thermal Infrared Imager
This dual band infrared imaging system is capable of spatial resolution of 60 m from orbit and earth observing expected NEDT less than 0.2o C. It is designed to fit within the top two-thirds of a 3U CubeSat envelope, installed on the International Space Station, or deployed on other orbiting or airborne platforms. This infrared imaging system will utilize a newly conceived strained-layer superlattice GaSb/InAs broadband detector array cooled to 60 K by a miniature mechanical cryocooler. The camera is controlled by a sensor chip assembly consisting of a newly developed 25 m pitch, 640 x 512 pixel.
Freeze-Resistant Hydration System
Even when a water conformal fluid reservoir and drink straw are zipped into a down suit, water freezes under extreme conditions. This poses a health hazard, particularly to high-altitude climbers who mouth-breathe, as mouth-breathing causes substantial fluid loss (in exhaled breaths). Climbers of 8,000-meter peaks get only 1 liter or less of fluid on summit days because their drink bottles freeze so quickly. The High Altitude Hydration System keeps water from freezing in three different ways. First, the system has passive thermal control that uses aerogel insulation on the outside of the conformal fluid reservoir and around the drinking straw to protect the contents from the cold. The container is placed within an inner layer of clothing, and the insulated straw is pulled out from underneath the suit for sips. Second, the system has a braided copper wire placed around the exterior of the drinking straw and another heat-collecting surface about the container wall to transfer body-generated heat to the fluid reservoir and straw during use. Third, the system uses a microcontroller and tape heater powered by a battery to keep the straw warm and free of ice crystals.
Wastewater Treatment and Remediation
NASA's system was developed for smaller-scale, space-based applications. However, the technology is scalable for larger industrial and municipal water treatment applications. Implementation of the Ammonia Recovery System could significantly reduce nitrogen content from water treatment processes, meaningfully improving the quality of water. This system offers a novel way to reduce nitrogen water pollutants, while allowing for the nitrogen to be collected and reused- reducing environmental and public health risks and providing an environmentally friendly fertilizer option. NASAs environmental solutions work to sustain life on earth through space based technology The adaptable nature of this system gives it potentially broad applications in a wide variety of industries; it is particularly ideal for on-site remediation of wastewater in places like condo complexes, hotels and water parks. Current methods of ammonia recovery could not meet NASAs mission requirements, so a new process was devised to optimize for high ammonia selectivity, simplicity, low volume , low power usage and zero contaminants in the effluent. To do this, NASA designed a novel regenerable struvite-formation system for the capture of ammonia. This system has three primary functions: 1) Removal of ammonia from wastewater using a media that is highly selective for ammonia 2) Capture of the ammonia for later use (e.g., as a fertilizer) 3) Regeneration of the capture media for reuse in the system
Contaminated Water Treatment
This invention is a system and associated method that is a two step process. It provides a contaminant treatment pouch, referred to as a urine cell or contaminant cell that converts urine or another liquid containing contaminants into a fortified drink, engineered to meet human hydration, electrolyte and caloric requirements. It uses a variant of forward osmosis (FO) to draw water from a urine container into the concentrated fortified drink as part of a recycling stage. An activated carbon pretreatment removes most organic molecules. Salinity of the initial liquid mix (urine plus other) is synergistically used to enhance the precipitation of organic molecules so that activated carbon can remove most of the organics. A functional osmotic bag is then used to remove inorganic contaminants. If a contaminant is processed for which the saline content is different than optimal for precipitating organic molecules, the saline content of the liquid should be adjusted toward the optimal value for that contaminant.
Multi-Stage Filtration System
While HEPA filter elements can last for years without intervention, pre-filtering systems that remove larger particles before they reach the HEPA filter need to be treated (most often by cleaning or replacement) as often as once a week. These treatments can be resource-intensive and expensive, especially in extreme environments. Glenn's innovative system combines a pre-filtration impactor and a scroll filter that reduces the need to replace the more sensitive or expensive filters, extending the system's working life. The system uses an endless belt system to provide the impaction surface. A thin layer of low-toxicity grease is applied to the impaction surface to increase particle adhesion. A high flow turning angle near the impaction surface causes relatively large particles to impact and stick to the surface while smaller particles stay within the air flow. When the surface is covered with particles - or if a layer of particles has grown to a thickness that impairs adhesion - the surface is regenerated. The band is rotated so that the loaded surface passes by a scrapper, removing the layer of particles and a clean segment of the band revolves to become the new impaction surface. A further innovation is the scroll filter which allows the filtration media to be rotated out of the airflow when fully loaded, providing multiple changes of the filter through a motorized scrolling or indexing mechanism. When nearly fully loaded with dust particles, the exposed media is mechanically rolled up on one side of the filter to both contain and compactly store the dust. The spools that hold the clean and spent filter media are mounted on roller bearings to facilitate the scrolling operation and reduce motor power requirements. Nearly any grade of filter media can be used to meet the desired filtration specification. Additional media rolls can be added after the original roll is spent to further increase filter life.
Estimation of Alga Growth Stage and Lipid Content Growth Rate
This invention, provides a method using light in different wavelength ranges to estimate (i) algae growth stage and (ii) algae growth rates in media (e.g., fresh water or marine water). Absorption of light is measured for a beam having a specified light intensity in each of two or more specified narrow wavelength ranges. Optionally, light absorption is corrected for absorption in the same wavelength range by the medium. Then absorption of light is compared with a reference set of absorption values for the algae at different growth stages. Algorithm is applied to determine differences between measured absorption values and reference absorption values to estimate growth stage. Compensation for light reflection from a liquid (absent algae) is similar. Lipid content of the algae is measured at each of a selected set of growth stages. The estimated growth stage is correlated with a time variable to estimate time for initiation of growth of algae under specified conditions. One or more relevant environmental parameters (light intensity or wavelength, temperature, or nutrients) is varied in the growth medium for the algae and the time required for their grow this determined and related to the system described here.
Algae Photobioreactor Using Floating Enclosures With Semi-Permeable Membranes
The photobioreactors allow light to enter through their transparent upper surface and optimizes the efficiency of light utilization with a light-reflective lower surface inside. Deployed in the marine environment, the gradient between the freshwater inside the system and the saltwater outside drives forward osmosis. The water removed through semi-permeable (forward osmosis) membranes is cleaned as it is released into the marine environment. In addition, this process concentrates nutrients in the algae medium to stimulate growth, and concentrates the algae to facilitate harvesting. The harvested algae can be used to make biofuels, fertilizer, animal food, or other products. The photobioreactors are intended for use in naturally or artificially protected marine environments with small waves and gentle currents. The system can also be used in artificial brine pools and freshwater basins or reservoirs, however in freshwater the forward osmosis feature cannot be used.
Miniaturized Laser Heterodyne Radiometer
This instrument uses a variation of laser heterodyne radiometer (LHR) to measure the concentration of trace gases in the atmosphere by measuring their absorption of sunlight in the infrared. Each absorption signal is mixed with laser light (the local oscillator) at a near-by frequency in a fast photoreceiver. The resulting beat signal is sensitive to changes in absorption, and located at an easier-to-process RF frequency. By separating the signal into a RF filter bank, trace gas concentrations can be found as a function of altitude.
Soil Remediation With Plant-Fungal Combinations
The technology builds on the existing notion that establishment of trees in contaminated soils can be enhanced through the use of ectomycorrhizal (EM) fungi. EM fungi impart resistance to soil extremes such as high temperature, high acidity and heavy metal contamination. This process for soil remediation utilizes specific plant/fungal combinations that are specifically adapted to conditions created by phenolic application to soils, and abilities of ectomycorrhizal fungi to oxidize these compounds. This is done by taking advantage of the ability of native fungi to upregulate enzyme genes in response to changes in host physiological condition and hence enhance natural phenolic oxidation in soils by up to 5-fold. Ectomycorrhizal mediated remediation of phenolic- based contamination through use of specifically adapted ectomycorrhizal fungi and enzymes utilizes the findings that EM fungi in the genera Russula and Piloderma react with positive growth responses to phenolic-based soil contamination. The activities of enzymes that oxidize these compounds increase in activity by 5 fold when the host tree is partially defoliated, which in turn imparts an increase in phenolic oxidation in soils by a similar amount. Defoliation is done by pine needle removal, where 50% of the needles are removed. This process is performed each year on new growth to maintain defoliation.
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