NASA Spinoff Database: Water Treatment Systems Make a Big Splash

NASA Center: Johnson Space Center
Public Release Year: 2004
Reference Number: JSC-SO-121
Category: Environment And Resource Management
Origin: Apollo Spacecraft Water Purifier

In the 1960s, NASA's Manned Space Center (now known as Johnson Space Center) and the Garrett Corporation, Air Research Division, conducted a research program to develop a small, lightweight water purifier for the Apollo spacecraft that would require minimal power and would not need to be monitored around-the-clock by astronauts in orbit. Carefree Clearwater, Ltd., obtained NASA's permission to manufacture a modified version of the Space Agency's patented purification technology for numerous commercial and industrial applications, including swimming pools, hot water spas, decorative fountains, ponds, manufacturing processes, and evaporative water cooling towers. The company's systems based on the Apollo-era technology electronically release copper and silver ions into the water to destroy bacteria and algae-which are then filtered out. Unlike chlorine, the ions do not dissipate from heat and sunlight, therefore they are capable of providing a very stable sanitizer residual. The ionization technology substantially reduces the demand for chlorine so that fewer chloramines are formed and fewer chemicals are consumed. This cuts down on undesirable side effects realized in swimming pool environments, such as burning eyes, odor, and bleached or dry skin and hair. Furthermore, the ions pose no health risks.

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Page Number in Published book: 59-60
Manufacturer: Carefree Clearwater Ltd.

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