NanoRacks-Terpene Extraction in Microgravity (NanoRacks-Terpene) - 08.27.15

Overview | Description | Applications | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
NanoRacks-Terpene Extraction in Microgravity (NanoRacks-Terpene) is an investigation sponsored by a commercial organization with the hope of finding new chemical building blocks for their products through microgravity extraction of the terpenes from wood samples.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by Bill Lumsden, Dr., and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Experiment Details


Principal Investigator(s)
Bill Lumsden, Dr., Ardbeg, Scotland, United Kingdom

Information Pending

NanoRacks LLC, Webster, TX, United States

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
National Laboratory (NL)

Research Benefits
Information Pending

ISS Expedition Duration 1
September 2011 - September 2014

Expeditions Assigned

Previous ISS Missions
Information Pending

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • NanoRacks-Terpene Extraction in Microgravity (NanoRacks-Terpene) studies terpene extraction in microgravity.

  • Terpenes are major biosynthetic building blocks within nearly every living creature and have multiple applications-such as use in cleaning products, aromatherapy, and various topical preparations.

  • To date, terpenes have not been studied in the space environment, yet they are critical components of major consumer products.

NanoRacks-Terpene Extraction in Microgravity (NanoRacks-Terpene) is a commercial investigation studying the extraction of terpenes from wood samples. Dry wood samples are placed in one end of the MixStix. Upon activation by a crewmember, the wood sample interacts with 6 mL of a 50/50 water and ethanol solution. The MixStix are then stowed until returning to earth where the samples are analyzed.

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Space Applications
One of the key questions for space station utilization remains a) whether the unique environment of space can capture the interest of mainstream consumer companies; and b) whether by fostering greater understanding of complex molecules, researchers can shed light on the impact of gravity on basic materials.

Earth Applications
The company undertaking the research belongs to a multi-billion dollar consumer company which produces dozens of new products that contain terpenes and other compounds each year. These include beverages, perfumes and cosmetics. Synthetic variations of terpenes and terpenoids also greatly expand the variety of flavors used in food additives. Another application is that the ingredients of terpenes have been shown to serve as natural agricultural pesticides. Hence, the understanding of terpenes extracted without gravity may well produce new understandings of a wide range of new products and processes. This is expected to be the first of several phases of research, all sponsored by the company.

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Operational Requirements
The experiment is activated by flexing the liquid mixing containers. The experiment is then re-stowed until ready to return on 30S.

Operational Protocols
A crewmember removes the Velcro tabs to open the Module-9 lid. A MixStix is removed and the crewmember flexes it to break the internal reservoir and release the liquids (flex down the entire length of tube). The crewmember then shakes the MixStix to mix the liquids thoroughly. Repeat for all 24 MixStix. Crewmember notes the time of MixStix activation and replaces the tubes back in Module-9. The lid is replaced and secured with the Velcro tabs.

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Results/More Information

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Related Websites
NanoRacks Brings Ardbeg Distillery’s Research to Space Station

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NanoRacks-Terpene Extraction in Microgravity MixStix contain a dry wood sample and a 50/50 mixture of water and ethanol. Image courtesy of NanoRacks LLC.

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NanoRacks-Terpene Extraction in Microgravity MixStix are flown inside a Ziplock bag inside NanoRacks-Module-9. Image courtesy of NanoRacks LLC.

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