Available Technology

Pre-Treatment Solution for Water Recovery

Increase water recovery, prevent mineral scaling, and reduce the volume of brines by half
NASA Johnson Space Center developed, tested and implemented a pre-treatment solution with the purpose of pre-treating urine before further processing of it in the International Space Station (ISS) distiller. The solution increased the water recovery rate in the ISS distiller from 75 to 90 percent, doubled the volume of feed processed per cycle, reduced the volume of brine by half, and eliminated the formation of precipitate up to 90% water recovery. The benefits extend to other steps in the process. For example, less precipitate has the potential to reduce the frequency of changing the filters and the number of filters used per gallon filtered during the distillation stage. Furthermore, this pre-treatment solution prevents bacterial and fungal growth during storage. Although the solution was developed for the ISS distiller, the technology can potentially be used on Earth to pre-treat contaminated water that is usually treated with a chemical solution to recover water from organic laden, high-salinity wastewaters. The technology is a simple additive process that can be scaled to fit processing demands. The pre-treatment solution has the potential to improve water recovery in many applications such as: desalination plants, brackish water treatment, mining water treatment and more. The technology can also be used in the transporting or storage of waste or other water sources due to the technology's ability to prevent microbial growth. This NASA Technology is available for your company to license and develop into a commercial product. NASA does not manufacture products for commercial sale.
Patent Abstract: 
The Pre-Treatment Solution for Water Recovery technology was developed by NASA Johnson Space Center innovators to increase the amount of potable water recovered from the International Space Station's urine processor assembly system. Turning waste water, urine or seawater into potable water requires three important steps: 1) pre-treatment, 2) distillation or membrane filtration, and 3) transport and storage of potable water and brine. This solution is added during the first step, consequently improving the next steps in the process primarily by reducing the formation of solid precipitates. The solution reduces the amount of precipitates caused by urinary calcium, sulfate ions, and sulfuric acid; creating less acidic brines. By reducing these precipitates, less surface scaling and clogging occurs in the distillation systems and more potable water can be recovered. Also, the solution contains a biocide to prevent the growth of bacteria, thereby increasing storage time and the amount of water recovered. This NASA technology is available for licensing.

Simple pretreatment solution additive process


Desalination plants

Brackish water treatment

Mining water treatment

Prevention of surface scaling caused by gypsum and sulfate minerals

Urine recycling as a water source

Oil and gas exploration and production water supply

Transportation and storage of concentrated waste product

Membrane wastewater treatment systems (micro-, ultra-, sub-micron, or nano-scale filtration, reverse osmosis)

Patent Number: 
Internal Laboratory Ref #: 
Patent Status: 
Patent Issue Date: 
May 1, 2016
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