Analyzer technology originally was developed for space travel
NASA has recognized the success of ASA Analytics for commercializing technology originally developed for the space program, which evolved into a line of automatic process analyzers for environmental and industrial applications. ASA Analytics is featured in the 2010 edition of Spinoff, an annual publication featuring companies that have successfully commercialized technology originally developed for the space agency.
NASA funded the development of automated spectrometry technology in 1991 through Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants to detect nutrients and contaminants in water. Vegetation grown hydroponically, with only nutrient laden water in contact with the root systems, would serve as an important food source for astronauts during multi-year space missions.
Today, municipal and industrial treatment plants use ASA Analytics’ ChemScan Automatic Online Analyzers to monitor and control processes that perform tasks such as disinfection of drinking water and management of the biochemistry that breaks down sewage before returning it to the environment.
“At a time when budget deficits and high unemployment are fueling debates about the economics of space exploration and the need to create jobs, our company is living proof of the real-world benefits of commercializing scientific research,” said Bernie Beemster, president of ASA Analytics. “This technology developed for deep space travel is now being used to protect our drinking water and the environment here on earth.”
ChemScan Online Analyzers automatically draw samples and test them for organics, halogens, dissolved metals and optical parameters in water and wastewater in real time. Data is uploaded to the plant’s data collection system where is it is accessed by computers to automatically control process equipment and display the information for control room operators managing the plant. Recently, the capability of ChemScan Analyzers to test for ortho-phosphate has made them a critical upgrade to many plants challenged with new discharge limits for phosphorous.
After nearly 20 years, this technology came full circle for Kennedy Space Center when the nearby city of Cape Canaveral, Fla., installed a ChemScan system to monitor the city’s water disinfection process. The water produced by the city’s water treatment facility is supplied to the Space Center in addition to residential, commercial and industrial customers in the Cape Canaveral area.
ASA Analytics is a privately held company located in Waukesha, Wis., that has been designing and manufacturing light absorptive process analyzers since 1995. ChemScan is a registered trademark of ASA Analytics.