Frances Bryson

and 9 more

While liquid environments with high salt content are of broad interest to the Earth and Planetary Science communities, instruments face challenges in detecting organics in hypersaline samples due to the effects of salts. Therefore, technology to desalt samples before analysis by these instruments would be enabling for liquid sampling on missions to Mars or ocean worlds. Electrodialysis (ED) removes salt from aqueous solutions by applying an electric potential across a series of ion-selective membranes, and is demonstrated to retain a significant percentage of dissolved organic molecules (DOM) in marine samples. However, current electrodialysis systems used for DOM recovery are too large for deployment on missions or for use in terrestrial fieldwork. Here we present the design and evaluation of the Minature Robotic Electrodialysis (MR ED) system, which is approximately 1/20th the size of heritage instruments and processes as little as 50 mL of sample at a time. We present tests of the instrument efficiency and DOM recovery using lab-created solutions as well as natural samples taken from an estuary of the Skidaway River (Savannah, GA) and from South Bay Saltworks (San Diego, CA). Our results show that the MR ED system removed 97-99% of the salts in most samples, with an average DOC recovery range from 53 to 77%, achieving similar capability to tabletop instruments. This work both demonstrates MR ED as a possible field instrument and increases the technology readiness level of miniaturized electrodialysis systems for future missions.