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Technical Paper

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

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

Development of an Advanced Life Support Testbed at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station

This paper presents a description of the Controlled Ecological Life Support System (CELSS) Antarctic Analog Project (CAAP) and its functionality as a pilot study for the design of a future Lunar-Mars habitat. A description of the prototype development testbed, located at Ames Research, is provided as well as an analysis of the key design parameters. The CAAP program is tasked with the development of a life support testbed at the South Pole. This facility will include food production, waste processing, and in situ energy production capabilities. The testbed will provide NASA with a remote facility located in an extremely harsh environment which has been designed to provide a useful analog to the deployment of a future Lunar-Martian habitat. NASA's program goals are the operational testing of life support technologies and the conduct of scientific studies to facilitate future technology selection and system design.
Technical Paper

The CELSS Antarctic Analog Project: A Validation of CELSS Methodologies at the South Pole Station

The CELSS Antarctic Analog Project (CAAP) is a joint NSF and NASA project tor the development, deployment and operation of CELSS technologies at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. CAAP is implemented through the joint NSF/NASA Antarctic Space Analog Program (ASAP), initiated to support the pursuit of future NASA missions and to promote the transfer of space technologies to the NSF. As a joint endeavor, the CAAP represents an example of a working dual agency cooperative project. NASA goals are operational testing of CELSS technologies and the conduct of scientific study to facilitate technology selection, system design and methods development required for the operation of a CELSS. Although not fully closed, food production, water purification, and waste recycle and reduction provided by CAAP will improve the quality of life for the South Pole inhabitants, reduce logistics dependence, and minimize environmental impacts associated with human presence on the polar plateau.
Technical Paper

Carbon Production in Space from Pyrolysis of Solid Waste

Pyrolysis processing of solid waste in space will inevitably lead to carbon formation as a primary pyrolysis product. The amount of carbon depends on the composition of the starting materials and the pyrolysis conditions (temperature, heating rate, residence time, pressure). Many paper and plastic materials produce almost no carbon residue upon pyrolysis, while most plant biomass materials or human wastes will yield up to 20-40 weight percent on a dry, as-received basis. In cases where carbon production is significant, it can be stored for later use to produce CO2 for plant growth. Alternatively it can be partly gasified by an oxidizing gas (e.g., CO2, H2O, O2) in order to produce activated carbon. Activated carbons have a unique capability of strongly absorbing a great variety of species, ranging from SO2 and NOx, trace organics, mercury, and other heavy metals.
Technical Paper

Reactive Carbon from Life Support Wastes for Incinerator Flue Gas Cleanup

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

A Prototype Pyrolysis / Oxidation System for Solid Waste Processing

Pyrolysis is a very versatile waste processing technology which can be tailored to produce a variety of solid liquid and/or gaseous products. The main disadvantages of pyrolysis processing are: (1) the product stream is more complex than for many of the alternative treatments; (2) the product gases cannot be vented directly into the cabin without further treatment because of the high CO concentrations. One possible solution is to combine a pyrolysis step with catalytic oxidation (combustion) of the effluent gases. This integration takes advantage of the best features of each process, which is insensitivity to product mix, no O2 consumption, and batch processing, in the case of pyrolysis, and simplicity of the product effluent stream in the case of oxidation. In addition, this hybrid process has the potential to result in a significant reduction in Equivalent System Mass (ESM) and system complexity.
Technical Paper

An On-line Technology Information System (OTIS) for Advanced Life Support

An On-line Technology Information System (OTIS) is currently being developed for the Advanced Life Support (ALS) Program. This paper describes the preliminary development of OTIS, which is a system designed to provide centralized collection and organization of technology information. The lack of thorough, reliable and easily understood technology information is a major obstacle in effective assessment of technology development progress, trade studies, metric calculations, and technology selection for integrated testing. OTIS will provide a formalized, well-organized protocol to communicate thorough, accurate, current and relevant technology information between the hands-on technology developer and the ALS Community. The need for this type of information transfer system within the Solid Waste Management (SWM) element was recently identified and addressed.
Technical Paper

Crop Models for Varying Environmental Conditions

New variable environment Modified Energy Cascade (MEC) crop models were developed for all the Advanced Life Support (ALS) candidate crops and implemented in SIMULINK. The MEC models are based on the Volk, Bugbee, and Wheeler Energy Cascade (EC) model and are derived from more recent Top-Level Energy Cascade (TLEC) models. The MEC models were developed to simulate crop plant responses to day-to-day changes in photosynthetic photon flux, photoperiod, carbon dioxide level, temperature, and relative humidity. The original EC model allowed only changes in light energy and used a less accurate linear approximation. For constant nominal environmental conditions, the simulation outputs of the new MEC models are very similar to those of earlier EC models that use parameters produced by the TLEC models. There are a few differences. The new MEC models allow setting the time for seed emergence, have more realistic exponential canopy growth, and have corrected harvest dates for potato and tomato.
Journal Article

Waste Management Technology and the Drivers for Space Missions

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.
Journal Article

Lightweight Contingency Water Recovery System Concept Development

The Lightweight Contingency Water Recovery System (LWC-WRS) harvests water from various sources in or around the Orion spacecraft in order to provide contingency water at a substantial mass savings when compared to stored emergency water supplies. The system uses activated carbon treatment (for urine) followed by forward osmosis (FO). The LWC-WRS recovers water from a variety of contaminated sources by directly processing it into a fortified (electrolyte and caloric) drink. Primary target water sources are urine, seawater, and other on board vehicle waters (often referred to as technical waters). The product drink provides hydration, electrolytes, and caloric requirements for crew consumption. The system hardware consists of a urine collection device containing an activated carbon matrix (Stage 1) and an FO membrane treatment element (or bag) which contains an internally mounted cellulose triacetate membrane (Stage 2).