Pictured: Expedition 60 Flight Engineer Christina Koch of Nasa works on a US spacesuit in the Quest airlock. List is developing novel nontoxic and antimicrobial surface treatments for spacecraft indoors
The Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology is to start work developing anti-microbial, non-toxic coatings which will be used inside spacecraft.
Treatments currently used inside spacecraft pose a long-term toxicity risk because they are composed of heavy metal particles.
Fifty years after humans first set foot on the moon, research and interest in space travel has reached a new high, reinforcing the need for safe environments for astronauts.
The European Space Agency selected List to work on its ESA NBactspace project, an 18-month research project to develop heavy metal-free antimicrobial coatings. Researchers will work on replacing metals silver and copper currently found in coatings with non-toxic biosourced materials, including molecules extracted from plants or lignin-based materials and antimicrobial peptides found in bacteria.
Until now, in-space tests of antimicrobial coatings have been very limited and studies focused on heavy metal-free solutions are almost non-existent, List wrote in a press release on Friday.
“This challenging research will generate unprecedented approaches in terms of processing of space-friendly and durable antimicrobial coatings,” List stated.