Development of colorimetric solid phase extraction (C-SPE) for in-flight monitoring of spacecraft water supplies
Colorimetric solid phase extraction (C-SPE) is a sorption-spectrophotometric technique that combines colorimetric reagents, solid phase extraction, and diffuse reflectance spectroscopy to quantify trace analytes in water samples. In C-SPE, a syringe is used to meter a known volume of sample through a membrane impregnated with a selective colorimetric reagent along with any additives required to optimize the complexation of the reagent and analyte. As the sample is passed through the membrane, analytes are extracted and complexed, leading to a detectable change in the optical characteristics of the membrane. The analyte-reagent complex is then quantified directly on the membrane, using a hand-held diffuse reflectance spectrophotometer;This dissertation focuses on the development, ground testing, and microgravity flight demonstration of C-SPE methods to meet the near- and long-term water quality monitoring needs of NASA. To this end, the ability of C-SPE to function in a microgravity environment was tested through performance evaluations of methods for the determination of the biocidal agents silver(I) and iodine on the KC-135 microgravity simulator. The biocidal iodine platform was investigated further to determine which iodine species is responsible for the C-SPE signal. Through systematic comparisons of C-SPE results and UV-Visible absorbance studies it was determined that biocidally active I2 is the iodine species complexed by poly(vinylpyrrolidone);The application of C-SPE to additional target water quality parameters is demonstrated through the determination of nickel(II), a metal leachate found in archived water samples from the International Space Station, using dimethylglyoxime. This method introduced a new variation of C-SPE, the quantification of trace analytes based on the collection of an insoluble, colored precipitate. The nickel(II) method was then combined with the method for biocidal silver(I) and a new method to measure sample pH to create a multiplexed C-SPE platform. This invention is presented as an approach to increase the collection of on-orbit water quality data collected without requiring additional crew time. The dissertation is concluded with a summation of the current work and a look at future directions.