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Technical Paper

Solid Waste Processing - An Essential Technology for the Early Phases of Mars Exploration and Colonization

1997-07-01
972272
Terraforming of Mars is the long-term goal of colonization of Mars. However, this process is likely to be a very slow process and conservative estimates involving a synergetic, technocentric approach suggest that it may take around 10,000 years before the planet can be parallel to that of Earth and where humans can live in open systems (Fogg, 1995). Hence, for the foreseeable future, any missions will require habitation within small confined habitats with high biomass to atmospheric mass ratios, thereby requiring that all wastes be recycled. Processing of the wastes will ensure predictability and reliability of the ecosystem and reduce resupply logistics. Solid wastes, though smaller in volume and mass than the liquid wastes, contain more than 90% of the essential elements required by humans and plants.
Technical Paper

Current and Planned Modifications to the Vapor Phase Catalytic Ammonia Removal (VPCAR) Technology in Response to the MSFC ECLS Long Duration Test Results

2008-06-29
2008-01-2141
The Vapor Phase Catalytic Ammonia Removal (VPCAR) Technology has undergone long duration testing at MSFC. The results of this testing revealed several areas in which the VPCAR Technology could be improved and those improvements are summarized here. These improvements include the replacement of several parts with units that are more durable, redesign of several pieces which proved to have mechanical weaknesses, and incorporation of some new designs in order to prevent other potential problems.
Technical Paper

Microgravity Root Zone Hydration Systems

2000-07-10
2000-01-2510
Accurate root zone moisture control in microgravity plant growth systems is problematic. With gravity, excess water drains along a vertical gradient, and water recovery is easily accomplished. In microgravity, the distribution of water is less predictable and can easily lead to flooding, as well as anoxia. Microgravity water delivery systems range from solidified agar, water-saturated foams, soils and hydroponics soil surrogates including matrix-free porous tube delivery systems. Surface tension and wetting along the root substrate provides the means for adequate and uniform water distribution. Reliable active soil moisture sensors for an automated microgravity water delivery system currently do not exist. Surrogate parameters such as water delivery pressure have been less successful.
Technical Paper

An Evaluation of a Prototype Dry Pyrolysis System for Destruction of Solid Wastes

2004-07-19
2004-01-2379
Pyrolysis is a technology that can be used on future space missions to convert wastes to an inert char, water, and gases. The gases can be easily vented overboard on near term missions. For far term missions the gases could be directed to a combustor or recycled. The conversion to char and gases as well as the absence of a need for resupply materials are advantages of pyrolysis. A major disadvantage of pyrolysis is that it can produce tars that are difficult to handle and can cause plugging of the processing hardware. By controlling the heating rate of primary pyrolysis, the secondary (cracking) bed temperature, and residence time, it is possible that tar formation can be minimized for most biomass materials. This paper describes an experimental evaluation of two versions of pyrolysis reactors that were delivered to the NASA Ames Research Center (ARC) as the end products of a Phase II and a Phase III Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) project.
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