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Technical Paper

Odors in Space Environments - Sources and Control Strategies

Management of human feces and wastes is a major challenge in space vehicles due to the potential biohazards and malodorous compounds emanating during collection and storage of feces and wastes. To facilitate safe, yet realistic human waste management research, we have previously developed human fecal simulants for research activities. The odoriferous compounds in feces and wastes reduce the quality of life for astronauts, can reduce performance, and can even cause health problems. The major odoriferous compounds of concern belong to four groups of chemicals, volatile fatty acids, volatile sulfurous compounds, nitrogenous compounds and phenols. This paper attempts to review the problem of odor detection and odor control with advanced technology. There has been considerable progress in odor detection and control in the animal industry and in the dental profession.
Technical Paper

Catalytic Decomposition of Gaseous Byproducts from Primary Solid Waste Treatment Technologies

Waste Management Systems (WMSs) designed for use aboard long-term spacecraft missions and within Lunar and planetary habitations must reduce volume and recover useful resources from solid wastes, as well as impart chemical and microbial stability to stored wastes. Many WMS processes produce high concentrations of toxic emissions that can periodically overwhelm Trace Contaminant Control Systems (TCCSs) designed to handle nominal atmospheric contaminants. A prototype Catalytic Oxidation System (COS) has been developed for this contingency, and when mated to different WMS processes, will treat these toxic emissions on an as-needed basis. The COS reactor utilizes a platinum and ruthenium bimetallic catalyst supported on mesoporous zirconia that is highly active and oxidizes at relatively low temperature a wide variety of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and inorganic toxic emissions produced by WMS processes.
Technical Paper

Biomass Conversion to Pumpable Slurries

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

Catalytic Decomposition of Gaseous Byproducts from Primary Solid Waste Treatment Technologies

Several solid waste management (SWM) systems currently under development for spacecraft deployment result in the production of a variety of toxic gaseous contaminants. Examples include the Plastic Melt Waste Compactor (PMWC) at NASA - Ames Research Center1, the Oxidation/Pyrolysis system at Advanced Fuel Research2, and the Microwave Powered Solid Waste Stabilization and Water Recovery (MWSWS&WR) System at UMPQUA Research Company (URC). The current International Space Station (ISS) airborne contaminant removal system, the Trace Contaminant Control Subassembly (TCCS), is designed to efficiently process nominal airborne contaminants in spacecraft cabin air. However, the TCCS has no capability to periodically process the highly concentrated toxic vapors of variable composition, which are generated during solid waste processing, without significant modifications.
Technical Paper

Impact of Carbon Dioxide Concentration on Plant and Animal Life Sciences Research on Space Station Freedom

Space Station Freedom will provide an opportunity to conduct long duration life sciences research on plants and animals in a microgravity environment. Studies will be able to determine the rate of change of various processes in animals, e.g., calcium loss from bones, muscle atrophy, etc., determine the effect of microgravity on plant respiration and transpiration, and assess the impact of the microgravity environment over multiple generations for both plants and animals. However, all of these processes may also be affected by the 5.3 mm Hg partial pressure of CO2 (7000 ppm) currently specified for Space Station Freedom. The specifications for the plant and animal habitats to be developed as part of the Centrifuge Facility require that the CO2 level for plants be controlled over the range of 0.23 -2.3 mm Hg (300 to 3000 ppm ± 10-50 ppm) and that the atmospheric composition (CO2 level) for rodents be ± 1 % of the cabin composition.