Space Technology

Tide Solves the Space Laundry Dilemma

Overview CES Tech Talk podcast, now in its sixth season, features interviews with industry experts who bring you an insider’s look at what to expect at CES 2023 in January. New episodes drop weekly; subscribe via your favorite podcast platform for the latest updates. This week, Procter & Gamble’s Mark Sivik talks Tide. This household name is space-bound to tackle a thorny hurdle to prolonged interstellar voyages: Laundering clothes in microgravity conditions.

With Procter & Gamble’s Tide, new and improved is an understatement. The brilliant minds at P&G are figuring out with NASA how to clean clothes with minimal water, no gravity, and with a detergent that uses no solvents or many other standard chemicals. Also, the laundry solution has to be fully recyclable for a variety of reuse applications. In space, today’s wash-day water will be tomorrow’s coffee.
 
Few may realize that, today, there’s no laundry in space. Clothes are worn until the mission ends, or they’re too soiled to use. Then they’re discarded and burned – a reality that’s untenable for longer journeys. P&G has the answer. Mark Sivik, the company’s distinguished research fellow, explains in CES Tech Talk episode 8, Tide Tackles Laundry Day In Space, of the CES Tech Talk series.
 

Takeaways

 
  • At CES 2023, P&G’s Mark Sivik will discuss the space-laundry project during the panel session, Tech Dev in Low-Earth Orbit: An Astronaut's Perspective, January 6 at 9:00 a.m. ET and, if all goes as planned, will be joined by crew of the International Space Station (ISS) who will be patched in from space
     
  • Always innovating, P&G isn’t new to improving products sustainably for consumers’ benefit – for several years, the company has focused on developing more efficient wash systems to lower CO2 footprints via technologies that are being applied by NASA
     
  • In developing a recyclable solution for NASA, P&G has succeeded in decreasing astronaut water use by 42%
     
  • Laundry facilities and detergent formulations must comply with space-specific requisites for safety – oxygen interactions and flammability are among the considerations P&G is uniquely resolving in cooperation with NASA
 

They Said It

Laundry day right now doesn't exist on ISS. And so laundry day today would be to bundle up your clothes and send it into basically a chute or a capsule for later disposal as it re-enters Earth and gets burned up.

Mark Sivik (00:00)

[W]e've just received our hardware back from the latest mission on SpaceX 24 and 25…our detergent had a comparable stability to that of a companion set of materials that we've stored here on Earth. We actually flew nine different formulations and 13 different enzyme ingredients and other biological actives that help us clean, and those are all showing really nice results for us…

Mark Sivik (09:34)

P&G at CES 2023


In addition to the panel session with ISS crew, Procter & Gamble will have meeting space at The Venetian, Bellini, #2003.
 

Dr. Mark R. Sivik, Ph.D., Research Fellow, Procter & Gamble Fabric & Home Care


Dr. Mark Sivik currently works in P&G’s Strategic Innovation and Technology Division for Fabric and Home Care. Since joining P&G in 1992, Mark has helped drive new technologies such as softener actives, bleach activators, metal catalysts, pro-perfumes, surfactants, polymers, hueing dyes and deposition actives. His experience spans molecular design, synthesis, commercialization of technologies and much more. He has been awarded more than 210 patents and 28 technical publications. Among many other honors, he was awarded the P&G John G. Smale Innovation Award in 2002 and the American Chemical Society Central Region Industrial Innovation Award in 2007.

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