5 Green NASA Inventions

Advances in Substrates

Work at NASA has focused heavily on hydroponics for many years, since plants are considered crucial for the hopes of prolonged spaceflight. Flourishing plants would aid astronauts in many critical processes such as food production, oxygen release and waste recycling. Hydroponic systems have traditionally been complex, however, so NASA researchers started looking for a substrate that would eliminate many of those hassles. This led them to explore an option known as zeolites, which are naturally occurring minerals with honeycomb structures that can be modified to house essential nutrients until plants are ready to consume them.

This development in slow-release fertilization is now being applied commercially in places like golf courses and playing fields. Zeoponic products are better at delivering nutrients to plants, so much less is lost to surrounding soil and groundwater. Plants also thrive more when zeolites are present, so plant biomass production goes up.

Learn more about other green technologies below.

Related Articles


  • Abate, Tom. "Solar Energy's Cloudy Past." San Francisco Chronicle. Feb. 16, 2004. (March 3, 2011) http://www.greenenergyohio.org/page.cfm?pageID=58
  • "At Home … Home Insulation." Marshall Space Flight Center. (March 3, 2011) http://techtran.msfc.nasa.gov/at_home/home5.htm
  • "Community Facilities." The City of San Diego. (March 3, 2011) http://www.sandiego.gov/planning/community/profiles/pdf/cp/cpmvpecommunityfacilities.pdf
  • "Emulsified Zero-Valent Iron (EZVI)" NASA. (March 3, 2011) http://technology.ksc.nasa.gov/technology/TOP12246-EZVI.htm
  • "Energy Efficient Home Features." Energy Star. (March 3, 2011) http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=bldrs_lenders_raters.nh_features
  • "EZVI." Huff and Huff Incorporated Web site. (March 3, 2011) http://ezvi.net/
  • "EZVI Zero-Valent Metal Emulsion for Reductive Dehalogenation of DNAPL-Phase Environmental Contaminants." NASA Inventions and Contributions Board. Oct. 14, 2010. (March 3, 2011) http://www.nasa.gov/offices/oce/icb/winners/ioy/2005_ioy.html
  • "Greenspace." NASA. (March 3, 2011) http://www.nasa.gov/centers/ames/greenspace/clean-energy.html
  • Guaranteed Watt Saver Systems, Inc. Web site. (March 3, 2011) http://www.gwssi.com/index.html
  • "History of Radiant Barriers." Radiant Guard. (March 3, 2011) http://www.radiantguard.com/radiant-barrier-history.aspx
  • Jensen, Ric. "Natural Wastewater Treatment Systems." Texas Water Resource Institute. 1988. (March 3, 2011) http://twri.tamu.edu/newsletters/TexasWaterResources/twr-v14n2.pdf
  • Knier, Gil. "How Do Photovoltaics Work?" NASA. (March 3, 2011) http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2002/solarcells/
  • NASA's Spinoff Database. (March 3, 2011) http://www.sti.nasa.gov/spinoff/spinsearch?BOOL=AND&ALLFIELDS=&CENTER=&BOOLM=AND&MANUFACT=&STATE=&CATEGORY=Consumer&ISSUE=&Spinsort=ISSUED
  • Oberg, James. "Satellite turns 50 years old … in orbit!" MSNBC. March 17, 2008. (March 3, 2011) http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23639980/ns/technology_and_science-space/
  • "Slow-Release Fertilizers." NASA Technical Reports Server. (March 3, 2011) http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20020064968_2002103729.pdf
  • Space Technology Hall of Fame Web site. (March 3, 2011) http://www.spacetechhalloffame.org/index.html
  • Stayton, Robert. "Sludge Busters." Popular Science. February 1987. (March 3, 2011) http://books.google.com/books?id=sgEAAAAAMBAJ&lpg=PA43&ots=rbkuO8R9TF&dq=san%20diego%20water%20hyacinth&pg=PA43#v=onepage&q=san%20diego%20water%20hyacinth&f=false
  • Steffen, Josh. "Water Hyacinth." Cleveland Botanical Garden. Aug. 26, 2009. (March 3, 2011) http://www.cbgarden.org/blog/index.php/2009/08/26/water-hyacinth/
  • "Zeolite: The Versatile Mineral." Zeoponix. (March 3, 2011) http://www.zeoponix.com/zeolite.htm


Revolutionary Camera Captures NASA's Most Powerful Rocket in Amazing Detail

Revolutionary Camera Captures NASA's Most Powerful Rocket in Amazing Detail

NASA's HiDyRS-X camera was built for rocket science tests. Learn more about the rocket camera in this HowStuffWorks Now article.

More to Explore