NASA SBIR 2010 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 10-1 X14.02-9524
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Advanced Food Technologies
PROPOSAL TITLE: Non-Thermal Sanitation by Atmospheric Pressure Plasma

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Orbital Technologies Corporation
Space Center, 1212 Fourier Drive
Madison, WI 53717 - 1961
(608) 827-5000

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Yonghui Ma
1212 Fourier Drive
Madison, WI 53717 - 1961
(608) 229-2805

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 2
End: 4

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
ORBITEC proposes to develop a non-thermal technology based on atmospheric-pressure (AP) cold plasma to sanitize foods, food packaging materials, and other hardware and working surfaces that are encountered during food processing in space vehicles or habitats. AP plasma is well known to be highly effective in promoting oxidation, enhancing molecular dissociation, and producing free radicals and other types of high energies. It has recently attracted much attention in food industry due to its potential of being a non-thermal and highly effective sanitation method. The proposed technology will support sanitation of food preparation surfaces and equipment, food storage containers, and surface sanitation of delivered fresh fruit and vegetables, and freshly prepared foods in a space based habitat. It can function in reduced gravity and pressure environments, and is efficient in terms of waste and resource use. It may also have applications in air and water purification, allowing some sharing of components and training procedures. During this Phase I effort, two different reactor designs will be built and tested. Their performance will be evaluated on tomato, lettuce, Teflon, and/or other non-food substrates, all of which will be inoculated with Salmonella enterica.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Non-thermal plasma can be used to sanitize fresh foods grown in the space habitat and to sanitize raw ingredients either produced on orbit or sent up as bulk raw ingredients. It is also an ideal technology for sanitation of food production, food processing and food preparation equipment and surfaces. The technology appears to be efficient in terms of resources such as water and mass, and can replace chemical disinfectants in most applications. The function of this technology is insensitive to reduced cabin pressure and reduced gravity. Other potential NASA applications for cold plasma technology include preflight decontamination of instruments for planetary exploration to remove chemical residues as well as microbes, and for use in air and water decontamination systems. The portability of the technology may also allow for individuals to sanitize workstations or other common use areas.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The proposed non-thermal plasma sanitation technology can create more effective ways for reducing the number of cases of food-borne illness due to contaminations. Existing food sanitation technologies center around the use of chlorinated water to reduce contaminant levels, which is not portable, requires consumables, and is not entirely effective. Irradiation of fresh foods has been used to increase shelf life and reduce contaminants, but public perception may not be positive. Non-thermal plasma technology is scalable, can be portable, does not require consumables, and does not affect the flavor of fresh foods. The technology could be implemented in a small volume application (e.g., a restaurant or kitchen), a medium volume application (e.g., a raw food processing facility or farm cooperative), or a large volume application (e.g., a food packaging plant). The relatively low power consumption of the technology makes it a good candidate for green power facilities or remote access applications.

TECHNOLOGY TAXONOMY MAPPING (NASA's technology taxonomy has been developed by the SBIR-STTR program to disseminate awareness of proposed and awarded R/R&D in the agency. It is a listing of over 100 technologies, sorted into broad categories, of interest to NASA.)
Food (Preservation, Packaging, Preparation)

Form Generated on 09-03-10 12:12