NASA is seeking novel anti-microbial sanitization and sterilization techniques and systems to be used on the ISS. This technology will be applied to discarded materials such as cutlery, utensils, and medical devices, with the view to re-purpose/re-cycle previously disposed waste.

Background

This project is developing a catalog of parts that can be manufactured rather than pre-positioned on long duration missions. In addition to spares, many of these parts include biomedical devices and food utensils. For long duration missions, previous research has given some indication that bacteria and viruses may be more virulent in space and crew immune systems may change in response to microgravity and radiation, potentially making crew more susceptible to bacterial and viral infections. Currently many parts that are used in a food or medical capacity are disposed of or disinfected with an antibacterial wipe.

NASA is therefore seeking sanitization and sterilization capabilities for materials, parts, and devices which come in contact with crew on space missions. These capabilities will improve crew health and safety and enable reuse of materials and devices.

Constraints

  • The system must fit in a double locker on the International Space Station. This corresponds to dimensions of 20.32in X 19.94in X 17.33in and a weight of approximately 140 lbs.
  • The approach will require sterilization of the following classes of materials (the ability to sterilize either or both is accepted). Materials include Thermoplastics: ABS, ULTEM 9085, HDPE, PLA, PET-G, PEEK; Aerospace-grade metallics: Ti-64, AA 6061, AA 7075.
  • The approach should demonstrate efficacy against the following: Escherichia Coli, Influenza, and Salmonella Enterica.
  • The desired peak power draw is 500 W (up to 2000W can be allocated, but no other payloads can be operated concurrently).
  • The system should ideally not use water in operation.

Possible Solution Areas

(including but not limited to)

  • UV light sterilization
  • Chemical sterilization
  • Dry heat sterilization
  • Anti-microbial materials + coatings
  • Anti-microbial filament materials for 3D printing
  • Anti-microbial spray system
  • Ionized gas/ Plasma sterilization

Desired Outcome of the Solution

Successful outcome is an approach to sterilization that will satisfy ISS payload accommodations, safety constraints, and mission needs.