How Researchers Are Fighting Microbes On The International Space Station

Designing for space can take inspiration from Earth-based applied sciences, in fact, however there are further issues to take note of when arising with options to work on a space station. For instance, antimicrobial technology must be protected for a confined surroundings the place astronauts use a water recycling system.

“Antimicrobial coatings on Earth often make use of silver, but we want to do without it here,” Malgorzata defined. “The issue is that in the confined environment of a spacecraft, prolonged exposure to silver could have negative health effects for astronauts — we don’t want a heavy metal buildup in the onboard water, for instance.” That’s as a result of being uncovered to an excessive amount of silver in a water provide can result in well being issues like pores and skin and eye irritation, which would not be good for astronauts.

Instead of silver, the researchers try out titanium oxide as a substitute. This compound has the benefit of being steady over time, so it should not break down too shortly. But earlier than it’s used throughout the space station, the researchers have to verify what occurs when it degrades, as a result of they wish to guarantee that any byproducts from oxidizing the micro organism aren’t dangerous. Another requirement is that the coating must be used on all types of supplies, like glass and steel and materials. The layer must be skinny sufficient that it would not intrude with materials properties, equivalent to by making material much less versatile. To obtain this, the coatings being examined are extraordinarily skinny, at millionths of a millimeter in thickness.

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