Two NASA Kennedy Space Center employees will be inducted into the Space Technology Hall of Fame for their award-winning work in developing technology that reduces groundwater contamination. The ceremony will take place during the 23rd National Space Symposium April 9 to 12 in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The inductees include Dr. Jacqueline Quinn, a NASA environmental engineer in the Applied Sciences Division at Kennedy Space Center, and Kathleen Brooks, a NASA analytical chemist in KSC’s Materials Science Laboratory.

They will be joined by Drs. Christian Clausen, Cherie Geiger and Debra Reinhart from the University of Central Florida’s Departments of Chemistry and Civil and Environmental Engineering, who helped to develop Emulsified Zero-Valent Iron, or EZVI.

“It was an unexpected honor to be recognized by such a prestigious institution as the Space Foundation,” which conducts the Hall of Fame in cooperation with NASA, Quinn said. “While the direct applications to spaceflight are not obvious, this technology will have a direct benefit as we transition from current space flight programs to new programs supporting the exploration of the moon and beyond. This offers an innovative way of cleaning up our current facilities and enabling us to use them for the future.”

The EZVI technology won NASA’s Government Invention of the Year and Commercial Invention of the Year for 2005. KSC inventors have accomplished this feat twice in the past three years.

The group also received a 2006 Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer from the Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer. This award recognizes laboratory employees who have accomplished outstanding work in the process of transferring a technology developed by a federal laboratory to the commercial marketplace.

EZVI is one of the few methods available that can treat the dense nonaqueous phase liquids, or DNAPL source. DNAPLs are liquids that are denser than water and do not dissolve or mix easily in water. Benefits of this technology include requiring less treatment time, reducing treatment costs, producing less toxic and more easily degradable byproducts, and the product is safe for the environment.

During the Apollo space program years, rocket engine parts were cleaned with chlorinated solvents which are heavier than water. As the liquids sank into the ground, it was later discovered they could become harmful to the aquifer, which is often a source of drinking water.

In 1999, the research team began working on a concept to treat DNAPLs found at Launch Complex 34 at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. The project was initially funded by NASA’s Small Business Technology Transfer programs and the Environmental Compliance and Restoration Program. Quinn teamed with researchers at UCF in 2000 to conduct the first phase of the research and development of EZVI. During phase two, the first field demonstration was performed in 2002 at Launch Complex 34 under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund Innovative Technology Evaluation Program.

GeoSyntec, an environmental consultant to NASA, participated in the first field demonstration of EZVI as the university’s small business collaborator. Since then, NASA has licensed EZVI to six companies that are producing their own versions of the technology, including the first company, Toxicological and Environmental Associates in Baton Rouge, La.

The technology was field tested by the U.S. Department of Defense at additional locations. It has also been used in both government and private industry in Arkansas, Illinois, Tennessee, New Jersey and Florida, and by other government agencies.

Quinn said the EZVI technology also treats metal contaminates, making the technology even more globally applicable. The team recently was granted another patent for “Contaminate Removal from Natural Resources,” which addresses EZVI’s use on metal contamination.

The Space Technology Hall of Fame enters its 19th year of honoring those who quietly transform technology originally developed to support space exploration initiatives into products that help improve the quality of life on Earth.

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