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Technical Paper

A Pilot Scale System for Low Temperature Solid Waste Oxidation and Recovery of Water

2009-07-12
2009-01-2365
In February 2004 NASA released “The Vision for Space Exploration.” The goals outlined in this document include extending the human presence in the solar system, culminating in the exploration of Mars. A key requirement for this effort is to identify a safe and effective method to process waste. Methods currently under consideration include incineration, microbial oxidation, pyrolysis, drying, and compaction. Although each has advantages, no single method has yet been developed that is safe, recovers valuable resources including oxygen and water, and has low energy and space requirements. Thus, the objective of this work was to develop a low temperature oxidation process to convert waste cleanly and rapidly to carbon dioxide and water. TDA and NASA Ames Research Center have developed a pilot scale low temperature ozone oxidation system to convert organic waste to CO2 and H2O.
Journal Article

Development and Design of a Low Temperature Solid Waste Oxidation and Water Recovery System

2008-06-29
2008-01-2052
In February 2004 NASA released “The Vision for Space Exploration.” The goals outlined in this document include extending the human presence in the solar system, culminating in the exploration of Mars. A key requirement for this effort is to identify a safe and effective method to process waste. Methods currently under consideration include incineration, microbial oxidation, pyrolysis, drying, and compaction. Although each has advantages, no single method has yet been developed that is safe, recovers valuable resources including oxygen and water, and has low energy and space requirements. Thus, the objective of this work is to develop a low temperature oxidation process to convert waste cleanly and rapidly to carbon dioxide and water. Previously, TDA Research, Inc. demonstrated the potential of a low temperature dry oxidation process using ozone in a small laboratory reactor.
Journal Article

Waste Management Technology and the Drivers for Space Missions

2008-06-29
2008-01-2047
Since the mid 1980s, NASA has developed advanced waste management technologies that collect and process waste. These technologies include incineration, hydrothermal oxidation, pyrolysis, electrochemical oxidation, activated carbon production, brine dewatering, slurry bioreactor oxidation, composting, NOx control, compaction, and waste collection. Some of these technologies recover resources such as water, oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, carbon, fuels, and nutrients. Other technologies such as the Waste Collection System (WCS - the commode) collect waste for storage or processing. The need for waste processing varies greatly depending upon the mission scenario. This paper reviews the waste management technology development activities conducted by NASA since the mid 1980s and explores the drivers that determine the application of these technologies to future missions.
Technical Paper

Simulated Human Feces for Testing Human Waste Processing Technologies in Space Systems

2006-07-17
2006-01-2180
Handling and processing human feces in space habitats is a major concern and needs to be addressed for the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) as well as for future exploration activities. In order to ensure crew health and safety, feces should either be isolated in a dried form to prevent microbial activity, or be processed to yield a non-biohazardous product using a reliable technology. During laboratory testing of new feces processing technologies, use of “real” feces can impede progress due to practical issues such as safety and handling thereby limiting experimental investigations. The availability of a non-hazardous simulant or analogue of feces can overcome this limitation. Use of a simulant can speed up research and ensure a safe laboratory environment. At Ames Research Center, we have undertaken the task of developing human fecal simulants. In field investigations, human feces show wide variations in their chemical/physical composition.
Technical Paper

Influence of Planetary Protection Guidelines on Waste Management Operations

2005-07-11
2005-01-3097
Newly outlined missions in the Vision for U.S. Space Exploration include extended human habitation on Mars. During these missions, large amounts of waste materials will be generated in solid, liquid and gaseous form. Returning these wastes to Earth will be extremely costly, and increase the opportunity for back contamination. Therefore, it is advantageous to investigate the potential for wastes to remain on Mars after mission completion. Untreated, these wastes are a reservoir of live/dead organisms and molecules considered “biomarkers” (i.e., indicators of life). If released to the planetary surface, these materials can potentially interfere with exobiology studies, disrupt any existent martian ecology and pose human safety concerns. Waste Management (WM) systems must therefore be specifically designed to control release of problematic materials both during the active phase of the mission, and for any specified post-mission duration.
Technical Paper

Magnetically Assisted Gasification of Solid Wastes: Comparison of Reaction Strategies

2005-07-11
2005-01-3081
Gradient magnetically assisted fluidized bed (G-MAFB) methods are under development for the decomposition of solid waste materials in microgravity and hypogravity environments. The G-MAFB has been demonstrated in both laboratory and microgravity flight experiments. In this paper we summarize the results of gasification reactions conducted under a variety of conditions, including: combustion, pyrolysis (thermal decomposition), and steam reforming with and without oxygen addition. Wheat straw, representing a typical inedible plant biomass fraction, was chosen for this study because it is significantly more difficult to gasify than many other typical forms of solid waste such as food scraps, feces, and paper. In these experiments, major gasification products were quantified, including: ash, char, tar, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, methane, oxygen, and hydrogen.
Technical Paper

Reactive Carbon from Life Support Wastes for Incinerator Flue Gas Cleanup - System Testing

2002-07-15
2002-01-2401
NASA Ames Research Center and Lawrence Berkeley National lab have completed a three-year joint NRA research project on the use of waste biomass to make a gaseous contaminant removal system. The objective of the research was to produce activated carbon from life support wastes and to use the activated carbon to adsorb and remove incineration flue gas contaminants such as NOx. Inedible biomass waste from food production was the primary waste considered for conversion to activated carbon. Previous research at NASA Ames has demonstrated the adsorption of both NOx and SO2 on activated carbon made from biomass and the subsequent conversion of adsorbed NOx to nitrogen and SO2 to sulfur. This paper presents the results testing the whole process system consisting of making, using, and regenerating activated carbon with relevant feed from an actual incinerator. Factors regarding carbon preparation, adsorption and regeneration are addressed.
Technical Paper

Experimental Results Obtained with a Pilot Scale System to Remove Pollutants from an Incinerator Effluent

2002-07-15
2002-01-2395
Incineration is a promising method for converting biomass and human waste into CO2 and H2O during extended planetary exploration. Unfortunately, it produces NOX and other pollutants. TDA Research has developed a safe and effective process to remove NOX from waste incinerator product gas streams. In our process, NO is catalytically oxidized to NO2, which is then removed with a wet scrubber. In a SBIR Phase II project, TDA designed and constructed a pilot scale system, which will be used with the incinerator at NASA Ames Research Center. In this paper, we present test results obtained with our system, which clearly demonstrate the effectiveness of this approach to NOX control.
Technical Paper

Reactive Carbon from Life Support Wastes for Incinerator Flue Gas Cleanup

2000-07-10
2000-01-2283
This paper presents the results from a joint research initiative between NASA Ames Research Center and Lawrence Berkeley National lab. The objective of the research is to produce activated carbon from life support wastes and to use the activated carbon to adsorb and chemically reduce the NOx and SO2 contained in incinerator flue gas. Inedible biomass waste from food production is the primary waste considered for conversion to activated carbon. Results to date show adsorption of both NOx and SO2 in activated carbon made from biomass. Conversion of adsorbed NOx to nitrogen has also been observed.
Technical Paper

Incineration of Inedible Biomass in a Regenerative Life Support System - Developmental Efforts at NASA Ames Research Center

2000-07-10
2000-01-2282
Of the many competing technologies for resource recovery from solid wastes for long duration manned missions such as a lunar or Mars base, incineration technology is one of the most promising and certainly the most well developed in a terrestrial sense. An incinerator was used to recover and recycle part of the waste produced during the Early Human Testing Initiative Phase 3 (EHTI 3) at Johnson Space Center. The fluidized bed incinerator developed for the EHTI testing was a joint initiative between Ames Research Center, University of Utah and Johnson Space Center. Though in no way an optimized system at that time, the fluidized bed combustor fulfilled the basic requirements of a resource recovery system. Valuable data was generated and problem areas, technology development issues and future research directions were identified during the EHTI testing.
Technical Paper

Optimization of Waste Derived Elemental Use to Meet Demands of Crop Production of Selected BIO-Plex Crops

2000-07-10
2000-01-2285
In this paper we have developed a unique approach to providing the elements required for crop production in a steady-state condition, which is essential for Space habitats. The approach takes into consideration human elemental requirements and crop requirements for healthy growth and develops a method for the calculation of the rates of nutrient uptake for the different elements for different crops. The uptake rates can be used to calculate the rate of nutrient supply required in the hydroponic solution. This approach ensures that crops produced will not have excessive levels of elements that may be harmful to humans. It also provides an opportunity to optimize the processes of crop production and waste processing through highly controlled feed rates.
Technical Paper

On Demand Electrochemical Production of Reagents to Minimize Resupply of Expendables

1999-07-12
1999-01-2181
The electrosynthesis of expendable reagents including acids, bases, and oxidants from simple salts or salt mixtures has been demonstrated using a variety of electrochemical cells. A five chambered electrodialytic water splitting (EDWS) cell with bipolar membranes was utilized to efficiently convert sodium sulfate, sodium chloride, potassium nitrate, and potassium chloride to conjugate acids and bases. With the same cell, selective segregation of cations and anions from mixed salt solutions occurred, resulting in relatively pure acids and bases. These results suggest that pure acids and bases can be produced from composite spacecraft brines. Chemical oxidants such as sodium and ammonium persulfate were also synthesized with high current efficiencies by the electrooxidation of salts and acids in a two chambered electrochemical cell.
Technical Paper

Biomass Conversion to Pumpable Slurries

1998-07-13
981757
The inedible portion of plant biomass in closed regenerative life support systems must be reprocessed producing recyclable by-products such as carbon dioxide, sugars, and other useful organic species. High solids biomass slurries containing up to 27 wt% were successfully prepared in a stirred batch reactor and then pumped using a single piston valveless pump. Wheat straw, potato, and tomato crop residues were acid hydrolyzed using 1.2 wt% sulfuric acid at 180°C and 1.2 MPa for 0.75-1.5 hours. Viscosity for a 25 wt% acid hydrolyzed wheat straw emulsion (Bingham-plastic) was 6.5 centipoise at 3 cm/sec and 25°C.
Technical Paper

Particle Size Effect on Supercritical Water Oxidation- Wheat Straw Particles

1995-07-01
951739
For Supercritical Water Oxidation (SCWO), particle size is a key factor effecting requirements for feed preparation, slurry concentration and pumping, rate of reaction, and reactor size. To address these issues, an experimental research program was undertaken to evaluate the effect of particle size on the reaction kinetics in SCWO of solid particulates (wheat straw and cellulose particles in this case). The experiments also included evaluation of the effects of temperature, pressure, and agitation. Some corrosion data were obtained. A two-step reaction mechanism was revealed. Empirically based mathematical relationships were developed that can be used for SCWO system design.
Technical Paper

Particle Size Effect on Supercritical Water Oxidation-Polystyrene Beads

1994-06-01
941399
Advanced space life support systems, especially systems that include growing plants to produce food, require the recovery of resources - primarily carbon dioxide and water - from various hydrocarbon wastes. Supercritical water oxidation (SCWO) of wastes is one of several possible techniques for oxidizing waste organics to recover the carbon dioxide and water. Supercritical water oxidation has the advantages of fast kinetics, complete oxidation, and the minimization of undesirable side products. However, the SCWO process requires further development before the process can be implemented in space life systems. One of the SCWO development needs is in the area of destruction of insoluble solids - such as inedible biomass or human wastes. Insoluble solids have to be introduced into a SCWO reactor as particles, and it can be expected that the particle size of the solids will affect the rate of reaction.
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