SERFE Water Quality Results



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51st International Conference on Environmental Systems


NASA has been developing a new spacesuit, for over a decade to support missions to the International Space Station (ISS) and also to the Moon. Improvements in the life and robustness of the Portable Life Support System (PLSS) has been a major objective of these efforts. Water quality, and how that impacts the performance of the life support system hardware, are areas where improvements could greatly help to achieve these goals. The Suit Water Membrane Evaporator (SWME) was chosen as the technology to provide cooling to the xEMU and has undergone several iterations of development over this period. An ISS flight experiment centered around the SWME and other thermal loop technologies was developed and has been under test in an ISS EXPRESS rack since November of 2020. In addition to the SWME, The SWME EXPRESS Rack Flight Experiment (SERFE) contains several technology demonstrations from the xEMU project and has been demonstrating their performance in micro-gravity and over an extended duration. This paper will summarize the results of the water quality analysis performed to date throughout the SERFE testing program. Special care was taken to select materials, process hardware, and control the quality of the feedwater used in SERFE testing so that it would be representative of a thermal control system that could be used on a spacesuit for a lunar mission. In addition, the testing schedule, including periods of quiescence in between tests, was also selected to simulate a real mission profile in ways that would be critical to water quality. Results include data and analysis on microbial activity, biocidal iodine, metals, organic carbon, and several other customary indicators of water quality in an operational system. Testing spans over a year and a half of wetted life of the SERFE Flight Unit and the SERFE Ground Unit.


David Westheimer, NASA, US
Colin Campbell, NASA, US
Alicia Contreras-Baker, NASA/Jacobs, US
John Steele, MRI, US
ICES402: Extravehicular Activity: PLSS Systems
The 51st International Conference on Environmental Systems was held in Saint Paul, Minnesota, US, on 10 July 2022 through 14 July 2022.


Portable Life Support System, thermal, Suit Water Membrane Evaporator, water quality