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Technical Paper

Assessment of Microbial Community Variability in Replicate Tubular Nitrifying Bioreactors using PCR and TRFLP Analysis

Bioregenerative life support systems (BLSS) may be necessary for long-term space missions due to the high costs of lifting supplies and equipment into orbit. Much of the recycling to be done in a BLSS involves microbial activity. Although most studies to date have used a culture-based approach to characterize bacteria in BLSS under development, recently work has begun utilizing non-culture-based, DNA approaches to elucidate which microbes are present. In this study, we investigated whether replicate reactors develop replicate microbial communities using a 16S rRNA gene approach and terminal restriction length polymorphism analysis for tubular, nitrifier reactors in use at JSC. Our result suggests that both individual reactor and temporal signals can be detected in the microbial populations. This information may lead to optimization of inoculation procedures and reactor operations conditions to increase predictability and reliability of biological systems.
Technical Paper

Design of an Electrochemical Tubulated Bipolar Membrane Breadboard System for the Treatment of Spacecraft Waste Water

The removal of dissolved ions from waste water is essential for water repurification on long-term human space missions. Lynntech, Inc., has demonstrated a novel electrochemically driven purification method using tubulated bipolar ion exchange membranes for the separation of dissolved inorganic impurities as well as charged organic species from waste water. Generally, electrochemical separation methods have limited applications since they can only be applied to the purification of water that has a sufficiently high dissolved ion content to make the water conductive. The novel tubulated bipolar membranes composed of bilayers of oppositely charged ionically conducting polymers can be used to overcome this limitation. This paper deals with the scaling-up of such a device to increase the throughput to process about 100 liters of waste water per day. This is achieved by using stacks of tubulated bipolar membranes.
Technical Paper

Performance of the Water Recovery System During Phase II of the Lunar-Mars Life Support Test Project

The recovery of potable water from waste water produced by humans in regenerative life support systems is essential for success of long-duration space missions. The Lunar-Mars Life Support Test Project (LMLSTP) Phase II test was performed to validate candidate technologies to support these missions. The test was conducted in the Crew and Thermal Systems Division (CTSD) Life Support Systems Integration Facility (LSSIF) at Johnson Space Center (JSC). Discussed in this paper are the water recovery system (WRS) results of this test. A crew of 4-persons participated in the test and lived in the LSSIF chamber for a duration of 30-days from June 12 to July 12, 1996. The crew had accommodations for personal hygiene, the air was regenerated for reuse, and the waste water was processed to potable and hygiene quality for reuse by the crew during this period. The waste water consisted of shower, laundry, handwash, urine and humidity condensate.
Technical Paper

Design of an Ultrafiltration/Reverse Osmosis Prototype Subsystem for the Treatment of Spacecraft Wastewaters

Long duration missions in space will require regenerative processes to recover water for crew reuse. Membrane processes are attractive as a primary processor in water recovery systems (WRS) because of their design simplicity, low specific energy requirements, small size, and high water recovery. However, fouling has historically been regarded as a disadvantage of membrane-based processes. This fouling is often caused by micelle buildup on the membrane surface by high-molecular-weight organics (e.g., from soaps and laundry detergents). This paper describes a two-stage fouling-resistant ultrafiltration (UF)/reverse osmosis (RO) prototype subsystem, which was designed and constructed for a WRS in the Life Support Systems Integration Facility (LSSIF) at NASA Johnson Space Center (NASA/JSC). The first stage of the subsystem is a tube-side-feed hollow-fiber UF module that removes contaminants that tend to foul spiral-wound modules.
Technical Paper

Immobilized Microbe Microgravity Water Processing System (IMMWPS) Flight Experiment Integrated Ground Test Program

This paper provides an overview of the IMMWPS Integrated Ground Test Program, completed at the NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) during October and November 2001. The JSC Crew and Thermal Systems Division (CTSD) has developed the IMMWPS orbital flight experiment to test the feasibility of a microbe-based water purifier for use in zero-gravity conditions. The IMMWPS design utilizes a Microbial Processor Assembly (MPA) inoculated with facultative anaerobes to convert organic contaminants in wastewater to carbon dioxide and biomass. The primary purpose of the ground test program was to verify functional operations and procedures. A secondary objective was to provide initial ground data for later comparison to on-orbit performance. This paper provides a description of the overall test program, including the test article hardware and the test sequence performed to simulate the anticipated space flight test program. In addition, a summary of significant results from the testing is provided.