How NASA technology helps in natural disasters

-October 07, 2017

Much has been written about Hurricane Harvey hitting the Houston area this summer and NASA’s efforts to keep Johnson Space Center’s Mission Control staffed to ensure the International Space Station (ISS) astronauts continue to fly safely. Kudos to the NASA Mission Control personnel who made the sacrifice in the face of danger to them and their families at home.

Now let’s look at what the ISS contributes to benefit planet Earth before, during, and after a natural disaster with two major developments to make life better for victims and also advanced prediction and possible future prevention of such catastrophic events.

[See: NASA FINDER equipment locates trapped victims of the recent Mexico earthquake]

Pure water for Earth’s people

Puerto Rico is still without fresh water on much of the island—how would sending a few of the following NASA water filtration systems there change that situation?

[Read more: How to fix Puerto Rico’s hurricane-damaged power system]

The ISS water recovery system shown here is part of the Space Station’s regenerative environmental control and life support system (ECLSS) developed by NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (Image courtesy of NASA)

A water purification system, based on the ISS water recovery system, is being tested in Kendala, Iraq (Image courtesy of NASA)

The Water Security Corporation owns the patents for the commercial use of this NASA technology. The Discovery Model WSC4 is used as a water disinfection unit to take rural water that is microbiologically contaminated and filter and disinfect it. It requires not much training to operate. The Model WSC 0.5, seen in the image above on the truck, has a flow capacity of 2 liters/minute and can be easily lifted onto a truck and driven to various locations operated by a generator or even a hand pump.

Water Security Corp’s Discovery Model WSC4 has 4-gallon/minute output capability with a 30,000 gallon capacity. (Image courtesy of NASA)

There is a patented microbial check valve (MCV) in these systems, developed by Umpqua Research Company in Myrtle Creek, Oregon. The valve releases iodine into the contaminated water to kill viruses and bacteria. It then adds a proprietary resin known as Iodosorb that works as an iodine scrubber. This process meets U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards.

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