An Integrated Approach to Bioreactor Technology Development for a Regenerative Life Support Primary Water Processor 941397

Development of bioreactor technology for a regenerative life support primary water processor is ongoing by a team, composed of NASA and major aerospace companies, using a concurrent integrated approach. This approach consists of performing small-scale reactor experimental investigations, large-scale experimental studies, and computer modeling efforts on both the bioprocessor subsystem level and on the integrated water recovery system level.
Bench-top experimental studies are aimed at developing an understanding of the biological process and the effect of key parameters on the process, determining the operational envelope for the regenerative life support application, and addressing process control issues. The large-scale experimental studies, in which a bioprocessor is one subsystem of an overall water recovery system, address the full-scale system integration and operational issues. Two biological reactors, the trickling filter bioreactor (TFB) and the immobilized cell bioreactor (ICB), are currently under test as primary water processors using a real waste water feed in the Hybrid Regenerative Water Recovery System (HRWRS) at NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC).
Two levels of computer modeling efforts are also ongoing. A detailed bioreactor performance model is being developed in which the bioprocess phenomena are being explored from first principles. This model will be validated with the data from the experimental investigations and will then be used to evaluate alternative bioprocessor configurations and operating regimes. Simplified reactor models which will be used in a water recovery system model are also under development. This system model will be used to trade off various subsystem technologies and system configurations as a function of various mission drivers. The purpose of this paper is to further describe this integrated team approach to bioreactor technology development and to discuss some of the initial results which have been obtained.


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