Evaluation of Space-Compatible Biomass Pretreatment Methods 1999-01-2076
In bioregenerative life support systems, crop residues represent a source of biochemical energy for production of chemicals, pulp products and secondary foods. Hydrolysis of the structural carbohydrates in biomass produces edible glucose as well as various 5-carbon sugars usable by microorganisms. However, the biomass must be pretreated before hydrolysis to remove minerals useful as plant nutrients, break down lignin, and improve access of the enzymes to the carbohydrates. Some pre-treatments also hydrolyze part or all of the hemicellulose, leaving purified cellulose. For use in space, pretreatments must be safe, rapid and as complete as practicable.
This paper will present a process comparison of three “space-compatible” pretreatment methods for lignocellu-losic crop residues from bioregenerative life support systems. Ozonation, alkaline hydrogen peroxide, and strong alkali treatment use only regenerable materials and mild processing conditions. This paper will describe the three pretreatment methods, present methods for producing the necessary reagents in a planetary surface colony, and compare their cost and effectiveness in pre-hydrolysis treatment of CELSS biomass for production of sugar syrups.