NASA STTR 2017 Solicitation
FORM B - PROPOSAL SUMMARY
|PROPOSAL NUMBER:||171 T7.02-9906|
|RESEARCH SUBTOPIC TITLE:||Space Exploration Plant Growth|
|PROPOSAL TITLE:||Reusable Nanocomposite Membranes for the Selective Recovery of Nutrients in Space|
|SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (SBC):||RESEARCH INSTITUTION (RI):|
|NAME:||Nanosonic, Inc.||NAME:||Virginia Tech|
|STREET:||158 Wheatland Drive||STREET:||800 Washington St, SW|
|STATE/ZIP:||VA 24136 - 3645||STATE/ZIP:||VA 24061 - 0000|
|PHONE:||(540) 626-6266||PHONE:||(540) 231-6000|
PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Dr Carleen Bowers
158 Wheatland Drive
Pembroke, VA 24136 - 3645
CORPORATE/BUSINESS OFFICIAL (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Ms Melissa Campbell
158 Wheatland Drive
Pembroke, VA 24136 - 3645
Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Technology Available (TAV) Subtopics
Space Exploration Plant Growth is a Technology Available (TAV) subtopic that includes NASA Intellectual Property (IP). Do you plan to use the NASA IP under the award?
TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Through the STTR program, NanoSonic and Virginia Tech will create low-cost, reusable membranes that selectively capture and recycle nutrients (e.g., N, P, K) from urine in space. Urine is a readily available commodity in space that is rich in valuable nutrients for plant growth. Humans produce individually about 500 L of urine per year that contains ~7 g/L of nitrogen (N), ~1 g/L phosphorous (P), and ~2 g/L potassium (K). NanoSonic shall fabricate tailored nanocomposite ultrafiltration membranes that selectively capture key nutrients from urine through tailored binding chemistries, while filtering away undesirable components including sodium. The nutrients will then be eluted from the membrane and available in a useful form for direct application on plant soil. NanoSonic's membranes have excellent chemical and mechanical properties allowing for repeated use over long time periods, thereby limiting the need for replacement. Moreover, their high thermal transition temperature (~190C) permits serviceability in space where the temperature can range from ~-150C to +120C. Our STTR partners, Professors He and Vikesland in Civil and Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech, are experts in nutrient recovery and the use of nanotechnology for wastewater treatment. During Phase I, together with Virginia Tech, NanoSonic will increase the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) from 3 to 5 of our simple, lightweight, and low-cost filtration membranes through membrane analyses. TRL 7 shall be achieved during Phase II with industry support from our Environmental Engineering partners at 3e for nutrient extraction from urine to be deployed for plant growth in space on board the International Space Station (ISS).
POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
NanoSonic envisions several applications for the NASA sponsored technology on membranes that will enable food production in space through nutrient recovery. First, NanoSonic intends to manufacture nutrient recovery kits to be used by NASA for food production in space. The ability to grow food in space helps solve a big problem in space travel: the price of transporting food. NASA's International Space Station and Spacecraft Processing Directorate estimates that it costs ~$10,000 per pound to send food to the ISS. NanoSonic's membranes could also be modified to recycle water; that is, take urine, flush water, and even condensate and purify it for drinking water.
POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Membranes are widely used materials in water treatment, medical, and laboratory research. The global market for membranes is projected to reach 32 Billion USD by year 2020 (CAGR of 9.47%). The largest sub market is in the treatment of water and wastewater, which contributes half of all sales. This market is growing at a fast pace with opportunities associated with the increasing demand for nutrients. The integration of recovery technologies provides the opportunity for additional revenue by providing the agricultural industry with necessary nutrients. The main challenge for the market, and one that the proposed technology by NanoSonic can overcome, is the problem associated with the lifespan of membranes: the efficacy of the membrane decreases over time due to fouling, requiring replacement and increasing operational and maintenance costs.
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.)
Crop Production (see also Biological Health/Life Support)
Essential Life Resources (Oxygen, Water, Nutrients)
Food (Preservation, Packaging, Preparation)