Faced with the daunting task of reducing hazardous
rocket-fuel waste, a team of inventive scientists and
engineers from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC), FL, found a
way to really clean up, while at the same time produce a
commercially successful and safe byproduct.

The team developed a process to convert the hazardous waste
to a helpful fertilizer and was honored with NASA’s
Commercial Invention of the Year Award.

The invention was developed by NASA’s Dr. Clyde Parrish, Dr.
Dale Lueck, Andrew Kelly and Dynacs Engineering’s Paul
Gamble. Together, they developed the new process in response
to an Agency request to reduce the hazardous waste stream
captured in a scrubber when a toxic oxidizer is transferred
back and forth from storage tanks into the space shuttle’s
Orbital Maneuvering Subsystem (OMS) and Reaction Control
System (RCS) pods. The shuttle’s OMS is used for the major
orbital and deorbit maneuvers and the RCS is used for orbiter
attitude control.

The process was tested and is being implemented at Kennedy,
where it is being used on orange groves located on the
center’s grounds.

“We have a number of talented scientists and engineers on our
team and we’re proud of them. I believe this is just the
first of many such awards for the Kennedy Space Center,” said
Kennedy Director Roy Bridges. It is the first time Kennedy
has won the award, given annually by NASA Headquarters to
recognize a significant technology spinoff developed at one
of the Agency’s centers.

The inventors will be honored at a ceremony at NASA
Headquarters in April where the team will receive a check and
a certificate from the NASA Administrator. The technology
will be submitted as NASA’s nominee for the Intellectual
Property Owners Inc. Invention of the Year award, which is
held in cooperation with the United States Patent and
Trademark Office.

“This was very much a team effort,” said Gamble, the current
lead for the project at Dynacs Engineering. Dynacs is the
engineering development contractor at Kennedy. “We’re all
very proud to have been a part of it. When we’re able to
commercialize a technology we’ve developed at KSC, it
benefits everyone. It’s another example of how the space
program makes all our lives better,” said Gamble.

Parrish suggested the original idea for the technology and
led development of the process, which started while he worked
at Dynacs. Parrish had worked on a Navy project team 25 years
before that found an oxidizer used in battlefield
illumination flares could be used as a fertilizer. Parrish
has numerous patents and awards to his credit.

“When we were approached with the technical challenge to
reduce hazardous waste, I remembered the flare oxidizer
project. I thought the scrubber chemistry could be modified
to produce a fertilizer,” Parrish said.

The invention has been licensed to Phoenix Systems
International Inc. of McDonald, Ohio, an engineering firm
that develops technologies applied to utility and industrial
fossil fuel. The U.S. Air Force also has expressed interest
in the technology for launch facilities at Cape Canaveral Air
Force Station, FL, and Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA.

The award represents another success for Kennedy’s Technology
Programs and Commercialization Office. The office works with
KSC scientists and engineers to report new technologies and
commercialize them when possible.

“Our office has been striving to create an awareness of all
facets of new technology reporting, including the awards
program. As a part of this effort, we’re seeking to provide
more recognition for our inventors and their inventions,”
said Pam Bookman, a commercialization manager for the office.
“Our people have always produced new technologies to cope
with the operational challenges we face, but they’re
realizing more often now that those technologies can often be