1996-07-01

Concepts for Food Processing for Lunar and Planetary Stations 961415

Most work on food production for long-duration missions has focused either on biomass production or nutritional modeling. Food processing, while not a basic life support technology, has the potential to significantly affect both life support system performance and the crew's quality of life.
Food processing includes the following tasks:
  • Separation of edible biomass (food) from inedible biomass
  • Conversion of inedible biomass into foodstuffs (optional)
  • Processing of foodstuffs into convenience ingredients or storable forms
  • Storage management for locally produced foods and foods supplied from Earth
  • Cooking and serving of fresh and stored foods
  • Management of wastes and leftovers
  • Cleaning and maintenance of equipment
Questions to be answered in design of a food processing system include:
  • What processing and labor-saving equipment is required, and with what capacity?
  • How must earth-based processing technology be adapted for hypogravity?
  • What storage environments are needed and what capacity is required?
  • What are the tradeoffs between system costs and long term acceptability of the diet?
  • How much crew time, mass of equipment and consumables and pressurized volume is minimally required for food processing?
  • How can we best utilize unconventional food sources?
The authors review the requirements for food processing in an ALS and present a conceptual plan for processing locally produced edible biomass into a palatable and diverse menu, while minimizing equipment, consumables, mass and manpower requirements. Our chosen baseline was a 4-person lunar crew consuming a low-fat CELSS diet with 15% of calories supplied from Earth, but the concept may be adapted to any scenario with sufficient gravitational force (or centrifugal equivalent) to support conventional food processing techniques. Rather more changes would be needed for operation in a weightless environment.

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