Volatile Organic Analyzer (VOA)

Objectives

The objective of this experiment was to evaluate the performance of the Volatile Organic Analyzer (VOA), which was designed to detect, identify, and quantify thirty targeted volatile organic compounds in the Shuttle-Mir environment. The VOA is an International Space Station (ISS) risk mitigation investigation, which demonstrates the technology to be used on the ISS.

Shuttle-Mir Missions
STS-81, STS-89

Approach
The VOA was designed to operate under both nominal and contingency conditions, once per day for up to two years on the ISS. It was designed to perform under various pressure, temperature and humidity conditions. It uses gas chromatography/ion mobility spectrometry (GC/IMS) as methods of isolating volatile compound in the ISS atmosphere. The VOA requires a period of 30 minutes to warm up the transfer lines, GC, and IMS. Samples are acquired remotely or at the instrument location. Data collection and analysis is completed in about 3.5 hours.

Results
Heating and Cooling: The VOA maintained excellent thermal control. Gas chromatography retention times showed excellent reproducibility during flight and compared to ground-based databases. Excellent reproducibility of ion drift times was observed.

VOA On-orbit Procedures: The nominal procedures (remote and automatic samples) were satisfactory. The inflight maintenance procedure was difficult.

Mechanical/Electrical Design: All mechanical devices (flows, valves, etc.) performed nominally. Electrical devices (heaters, valve drivers, computers, etc.) worked nominally except for code problems that were corrected during flight.

Software/Database: All method files performed nominally. Data analysis programs generally performed well.

VOA hardware components and software successfully tested in microgravity. Proper calibration will lead to accurate identification and quantitation of target compounds. Performing on-orbit nominal procedures is of minimum impact to the crew.

Earth Benefits
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are types of airborne contaminants. Airborne contaminants are a real problem in closed systems, such as office buildings and airplanes, the Shuttle and Mir Space Station. These systems have little interaction with the outside environment.

Airborne contaminants can be generated by a variety of sources, including furniture, new carpeting, and paper products, to name a few. These contaminants (such as formaldehyde, ammonia, and chloroform) have been known to cause headaches, eye and skin irritation, dizziness, and even cancer. Researchers are developing systems capable of identifying the VOCs present on spacecraft. These systems, though designed for monitoring the Mir and Shuttle environments, can also be used to identify VOCs in closed systems on Earth.

Publications
Dynacs Engineering Company. ISS Phase 1 Risk Mitigation Experiments and Technology Demonstration summaries and Lessons Learned. ISS Phase 1 RME Forum. JSC 28080 Revision A. Houston, TX. August 1998.

Principal Investigators
Thomas Limero
Krug Life Sciences

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Page last updated: 07/16/1999

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