On June 6th, ecoSPEARS left Orlando, Florida and headed to Washington, D.C. to represent NASA on Capitol Hill. The exposition, “NASA Technology Day on the Hill”, highlighted a handful of NASA-developed technologies that have been commercialized for impacts in global markets to shape our future for generations to come. From cutting-edge satellites which aim to help put humans on Mars, to transformative technologies that are restoring the health of life here on Earth, the event was nothing short of incredible.
This year, ecoSPEARS was one of 5 companies chosen by NASA to represent the space agency’s transformative technologies. ecoSPEARS showcased its namesake NASA-developed Sorbent Polymer Extraction And Remediation System (SPEARS) technology, explaining how it is being put to use here on Earth. SPEARS, invented by NASA Scientist Dr. Jacqueline Quinn, are used to extract persistent toxins such as PCBs, and dioxins from sediments “like a sponge”. This process not only reduces the overall costs of remediation but acts as an alternative solution to more environmentally-destructive methods. PCBs are a variety of man-made toxins which do not naturally degrade and instead remain in the environment, allowing them to work their way up the food chain where they can potentially land our plates. PCBs are also known to cause various adverse effects on human health including cancer, birth defects, as well as neurological and reproductive disorders. Current methods to remove PCBs from the environment include dredging and capping: neither of which do not lead to the destruction of PCBs, but rather their relocation. These methods can pose serious ongoing costs and risks and harmful to human health, wildlife, and the environment.
ecoSPEARS now offers a true solution for removing PCBs from the environment AND their elimination in a manner which is both cost-effective and environmentally-friendly.
“What’s unique about ecoSPEARS is we not only remove the toxins from the contaminated medium – we also destroy them on-site, in a cost-effective process that remains protective of human health, wildlife, and the environment,” says Morgan Smuczynski, a Business Analyst at ecoSPEARS. Members of Congress and Congressional staff were invited to attend this interactive event to see first-hand how NASA’s partnerships and are benefitting the United States’ citizens and economy every day. “It’s beyond exciting to exhibit our technology and show everyone how NASA’s innovations extend beyond just space exploration. I think people would be surprised to discover just how many of today’s everyday items came to be so readily available thanks to the space agency,” says Smuczynski.
Jim Bridenstine, the Administrator of NASA, also spoke at the event. In his speech, he touched on the Apollo 50 mission which aims to send mankind back to the Moon and establish a base of operations there, with an end goal of placing humans on Mars. We are a society driving Man to a new age of exploration – one that heavily relies on a plan of minimal waste production and sustainability – points which Bridenstine emphasized this in his speech. “We are sending Man to the Moon, and we are going to do it sustainably.” He also mentioned that this return to the moon will include women as well, a great historical advancement since our previous trips. The last moon landing mission, Apollo 17, took place in December 1972. To date, only 12 humans have ever set foot on the lunar surface, all of whom were male Americans. Sending the first woman to the Moon by 2024 would not only be another small step for man, but one giant leap for women the world over as we continue to foster global equality, particularly in STEM-related fields, and continue to smash the more “traditional” societal gender norms.
Overall, the event was a success. Members from all walks of life came together to learn more about the cutting-edge technology driving forward the world we live in. By urging bright minds across the globe to focus on science, space, and technology, there is no limit to what we can achieve.