NASA Funded Program Helps Stop Water Contamination

Aug. 17, 2005

A device that removes phosphorus contamination from water has received important validation from the NASA-funded Space Alliance Technology Outreach Program (SATOP). The program offers free technical help to small businesses through the expertise of the U.S. Space Program.

The device, called the Knight Nutrient Reduction Device (KnuRD), is the creation of Jay Knight, president, Doug Nelson, vice president of science and technology, and Mark Noga, vice president for marketing and distribution, at Knight Treatment Systems in Oswego.

"The removal of phosphorous from wastewater is essential to the continued preservation of the Earth’s lakes and rivers," Knight said. "As phosphorus levels increase in water, the amount of oxygen decreases, which can lead to contamination and eventual toxicity. The KnuRD is designed to prevent that toxicity by removing the phosphorus."

The KnuRD relies on manufactured media within the device to remove the phosphorus from the water. The media is any substance that will allow the charged phosphorus particles to attach to it and therefore be removed from the water. The partners had found a type of media that removed the phosphorus, but it needed to be replaced every six months. Dissatisfied, they began searching for a more permanent solution or validation that they were using the best technology available.

Prior to contacting SATOP, the team researched and discovered several options to the media they were using, but all proved to be cost prohibitive. "We completed as much testing as our resources allowed and we knew our technology worked; however, we were hoping to find a more effective media that would not necessitate a semi-annual replacement," Knight said.

After learning of SATOP from the Central New York Technology Development Organization, Knight filled out a Request for Technical Assistance (RTA) with SATOP’s New York office in Syracuse. On Knight Treatment System’s behalf, Ryan McLaughlin, SATOP New York engineering manager, contacted Todd Willoughby at AJT & Associates, who possessed experience in wastewater treatment.

"There is a definite need for a type of technology such as the KnuRD," Willoughby said. "I was excited to be a part of the process."

Willoughby was able to confirm that Knight Treatment Systems was indeed using the best possible media to remove the phosphorus.

"The media that Knight Treatment Systems was utilizing is the one most suited to their needs," Willoughby said. "There are many different types of media, many of which involve the addition other chemicals or consumables. The media they are currently using is an excellent phosphorus removal system and is the most efficient in terms of removal and cost."

That validation was enough to move the KnuRD more quickly to the next stage in the manufacturing process than Knight Systems’ internal capabilities would have allowed. The KnuRD has been limited to test installations thus far, but thanks to SATOP, the partners expect to bring the device to both the commercial and residential markets in the fall.

The Knight Systems team expressed satisfaction with their experience with SATOP.

"The most interesting thing is that a program like SATOP exists to begin with," Nelson said. "It is great to be able to work with someone with NASA credentials and bring their expertise into our business."

Source: Space Alliance Technology Outreach Program