The ability to stabilize and treat patients on exploration missions will depend on access to needed consumables. Intravenous (IV) fluids have been identified as required consumables. A review of the Space Medicine Exploration Medical Condition List (SMEMCL) lists over 400 medical conditions that could present and require treatment during ISS missions.
The Intravenous Fluid Generation System (IVGEN) technology provides the scalable capability to generate IV fluids from indigenous water supplies. It meets USP (U.S. Pharmacopeia) standards. This capability was performed using potable water from the ISS; water from more extreme environments would need preconditioning. The key advantage is the ability to filter mass and volume, providing the equivalent amount of IV fluid: this is critical for remote operations or resource-poor environments. The IVGEN technology purifies drinking water, mixes it with salt, and transfers it to a suitable bag to deliver a sterile normal saline solution.
Operational constraints such as mass limitations and lack of refrigeration may limit the type and volume of such fluids that can be carried onboard the spacecraft. In addition, most medical fluids have a shelf life that is shorter than some mission durations. Consequently, the objective of the IVGEN experiment was to develop, design, and validate the necessary methodology to purify spacecraft potable water into a normal saline solution, thus reducing the amount of IV fluids that are included in the launch manifest.
As currently conceived, an IVGEN system for a space exploration mission would consist of an accumulator, a purifier, a mixing assembly, a salt bag, and a sterile bag. The accumulator is used to transfer a measured amount of drinking water from the spacecraft to the purifier. The purifier uses filters to separate any air bubbles that may have gotten trapped during the drinking water transfer from flowing through a high-quality deionizing cartridge that removes the impurities in the water before entering the salt bag and mixing with the salt to create a normal saline solution.
This work was done by John McQuillen and Terri McKay of Glenn Research Center, and Daniel Brown and John Zoldak of ZIN Technologies. Inc.
Inquiries concerning rights for the commercial use of this invention should be addressed to
NASA Glenn Research Center
Innovative Partnerships Office
Attn: Steven Fedor
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