Mass Reduction and Nutrient Recovery During Biodegradation of Sweetpotato Residue 2001-01-2296
The Advanced Life Support (ALS) paradigm rests on the idea of integrating complex biological systems with tightly monitored mechanical systems, in order to effectively engineer an ecosystem. The benefits and objectives of the biodegradation studies conducted at Tuskegee University are compatible with those, including higher plants, in ALS for extended planetary habitation. Also, the treatment of inedible portions of crops required that issues of mass and energy be considered. The Waste Management and Resource Recycling Working Group of the Center for Food and Environmental Systems for Human Exploration of Space evaluated both the composting process and an automated aerobic bioreactor process, to treat solid waste from inedible sweetpotato biomass. The composter used in these studies was an Oxymax system equipped with carbon dioxide and oxygen monitors. The composter was effective in providing sixty-seven percent solid mass reduction and the nutrients recycled were nitrogen, potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, copper, iron, zinc and boron. The model development considers mass reduction and nutrient recovery streams from inedible sweetpotato biomass. The mass reduction and nutrient recovery profile from the composter system, were modeled as potential process integration streams available for re-direction into the crop production subsystem. In modeling the process to examine systems integration of the waste management and process recycling subsystems, the bioregenerative approach provides an alternative and robust means of treating solid plant residue.