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7 September 2006 Potential biofouling of spacecraft propellant systems due to contaminated deionized water
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Deionized (DI) water, with a density close to hydrazine, is used to fill spacecraft propellant tanks for mechanical testing during ground operations, after which is it removed and the tanks dried for use with anhydrous hydrazine. Pure nitrogen is used as a pressurant during storage and during water fill and drain operations. Since DI water systems are notorious for contamination by slime-forming bacteria, DI water intended for use in New Horizons and STEREO hydrazine tanks at APL was assessed for microorganism content using the heterotrophic plate count (HPC) method. Results show that some growth occurred during storage of DI water in propellant tanks, however not at the logarithmic rate associated with well-nourished bacteria. Ralstonia and Burkholderia were present in DI water on-loaded however only Ralstonia was present in off-loaded water. One possible source of nutrients during water storage in propellant tanks is organic material originating from the EPDM (EPR per AF-E-332) expulsion diaphragm. This paper will demonstrate potential for bio-fouling of spacecraft propulsion systems due to growth of slime-forming bacteria and will suggest that specifications controlling microorganism content should be imposed on water used for spacecraft ground testing.
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Patrick Hogue "Potential biofouling of spacecraft propellant systems due to contaminated deionized water", Proc. SPIE 6291, Optical Systems Degradation, Contamination, and Stray Light: Effects, Measurements, and Control II, 62910N (7 September 2006);


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