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Technical Paper

Transport Processes within a Hollow Fiber Membrane Reactor: Mass Transfer and Hydrodynamics

2007-07-09
2007-01-3093
Hollow fiber membrane reactors (HFMBRs) may be used for biological wastewater treatment, and may be integrated with NASA's current research developments. The goal of this paper is to (a) evaluate the effect of mass transfer and hydrodynamics in a microporous HFMBR and (b) appropriateness of HFMBRs for use in space applications. Even though bubble-less aeration was not achieved by the use of microporous membranes, mass transfer within the HFMBR was found to increase after biofilm formation. Conversely, convective flow dominated transport within the system. Despite the high treatment efficiency obtained by the HFMBR, due to the bioreactor size, configuration and membrane spacing within the HFMBR, the bioreactor was not a suitable option for application under microgravity conditions. Even though developing a system with more favorable system hydrodynamics would aid in treatment efficiency, the use of a microporous HFMBR is not a recommended option to meet NASA's needs.
Journal Article

The Analysis of a Modified Membrane-Aerated Biofilm Reactor for Space Flight Applications

2008-06-29
2008-01-2016
A modified membrane-aerated biofilm reactor (mMABR) was constructed by incorporating two distinct biofilm immobilization media: gas-permeable hollow fiber membranes and high surface area inert bio-media. In order to evaluate the mMABR for space flight applications, a synthetic ersatz early planetary base (EPB) waste stream was supplied as influent to the reactor, and a liquid loading study was conducted at three influent flow rates. On average, percent carbon removal ranged from 90.7% to 93.1% with volumetric conversion rates ranging from 25 ± 3.3 g / m3 d and 95 ± 13.4 g / m3 d. Simultaneous nitrification/denitrification (SND) was achieved in a single reactor. As the liquid loading rate increased from 0.15 mL/min to 0.45 mL/min, the volumetric denitrification rates elevated from 27 ± 3.3 g / m3 d to 65 ± 5.2 g / m3 d. Additionally, it was found that nitrification and denitrification were linearly related with respect to both percent efficiency and volumetric reaction rates.
Technical Paper

System Engineering and Integration of Controls for Advanced Life Support

2006-07-17
2006-01-2121
The Advanced Integration Matrix (AIM) project at the Johnson Space Center (JSC) was chartered to study and solve systems-level integration issues for exploration missions. One of the first issues identified was an inability to conduct trade studies on control system architectures due to the absence of mature evaluation criteria. Such architectures are necessary to enable integration of regenerative life support systems. A team was formed to address issues concerning software and hardware architectures and system controls.. The team has investigated what is required to integrate controls for the types of non-linear dynamic systems encountered in advanced life support. To this end, a water processing bioreactor testbed is being developed which will enable prototyping and testing of integration strategies and technologies.
Technical Paper

Selenium Coating of Water Distribution Tubing to Inhibit Biofilm

2008-06-29
2008-01-2158
Microbial control in closed environmental systems, such as those of spacecraft or proposed base missions is typically limited to disinfection in the potable water system by a strong chemical agent such as iodine or chlorine. However, biofilm growth in the environmental system tubing threatens both the sterility of the potable water distribution as well as operational problems with wastewater systems. In terrestrial systems, biofilm has been recognized for its difficulty to control and eliminate as well as resulting operational problems. In order to maintain a potable water source for crew members as well as preventing operational problems in non-sterile systems, biofilm needs to be considered during system design. While biofilm controls can limit biofilm buildup, they are typically disruptive and cannot completely eliminate biofilm. Selenium coatings have shown to prevent initial biofilm attachment as well as limit attached growth on a variety of materials.
Technical Paper

Performance of a Small Scale Biological Water Recovery System

2003-07-07
2003-01-2557
The objective of this study was to evaluate the treatment efficiency and reliability of a small-scale (1/20th) replica of the JSC biological treatment system over an extended period of time (18 months of operation). The two biological reactor components were an anaerobic packed bed for denitrification and an aerobic tubular reactor for nitrification. A recycle line (20X) linked the two biological reactors. Effectiveness of the biological system to treat a waste stream (1 L/day) containing water, urine, and soap (Igepon T42) was quantified by monitoring total nitrogen and organic carbon. Distribution of nitrogen in the effluent was measured and consisted of ammonium, nitrite, and nitrate. Daily concentrations of total nitrogen in the influent varied greatly. The system achieved 50% removal of total nitrogen and 80% removal of the influent organic carbon. The results indicate improved treatment effectiveness and resiliency with time.
Technical Paper

Optimum Loading Rates and Design Limitations of Biological Reactors for Long-Term Space Habitation Waste Streams

2005-07-11
2005-01-2979
Biological pre-treatment of liquid waste could potentially offer equivalent mass savings for long term space habitation. However, limited engineering studies have been performed to determine the optimum loading rates or to fully characterize (limiting reactants) the biochemical transformations occurring within the reactors. The objective of these studies was to provide loading rate data on a proposed and well studied reactor configuration. All studies were performed using a simulated early planetary base waste stream. Results indicate that the reactor’s efficiency is greater than typical terrestrial reactors and that transformation is limited by non-kinetic parameters.
Technical Paper

Nitrification using a Membrane-Aerated Biological Reactor

2003-07-07
2003-01-2559
When compared to physical and chemical processes for wastewater treatment in space, the benefits of biological systems include reduced storage and handling of waste material, lower energy requirements and plant growth system compatibility. An advanced membrane reactor (AMR) was constructed to treat ammonium-rich simulated wastewater. The effluent pH was approximately 6.3, and ammonium and TOC reduction rates were greater than 60 percent and 99 percent, respectively. The experimental results demonstrate that this technology may be suitable for space applications. However, the long-term performance of these systems should be investigated.
Technical Paper

Next Generation of Scientists is Inspired at an Early Age

2005-07-11
2005-01-3104
The concept that plants and humans in a living system are mutually beneficial was communicated to 2nd - 12th grade students in science educational and outreach programs at Texas Tech University's Center for Space Science. Students traveled to the TTU horticulture greenhouse for a live program, which focused on research in the Engineering Development Unit. The research is funded by NASA's Advanced Life Support. During the program students were presented with the science of growing plants, how plants benefit humans in space, and baseline science vocabulary. A survey instrument was developed to assess student level of understanding of sciences, and their comprehension of living cycles, which work together to support manned space missions. The survey consisted of multiple-choice questions covering topics presented during the program. Likert questions were used to assess student's desire to travel in space, be an astronaut or a scientist, and their enjoyment of science and growing plants.
Technical Paper

Musculoskeletal Loading During Gravitational Transitions Improvements in Postural Control

2003-07-07
2003-01-2493
Long-duration space travel will require improvements in exercise countermeasures so that astronauts are able to maintain cardiovascular fitness, bone mass and the ability to perform coordinated movements in a terrestrial environment following extended periods of “near weightlessness” encountered during transit to and/or obit of the Moon, Mars, and Earth. In such gravitational transitions feedback and feedforward postural control strategies must be recalibrated to ensure optimal locomotion performance. Current data suggests that specific, short duration musculoskeletal loading, following running in simulated Martian gravity using a vertical suspension type simulator, reduces the time required for re-adapting to steady-state performance of the postural control system during a novel, treadmill based precision stepping task. Possible enhancements to the current exercise countermeasures program are suggested.
Technical Paper

Modeling and Control Studies of an Integrated Biological Wastewater Treatment System

2005-07-11
2005-01-2963
From 1997 to 2001, the third author worked with a team of engineers at JSC to develop the requirements and basic design for the Bioregenerative Planetary Life Support Systems Test Complex, or BIO-Plex. Under the Advanced Integration Matrix (AIM) Project, this earlier effort is extended to an investigation of methods and approaches for Advanced Systems Integration and Control. The intent is to understand and validate the use of software as an integrating function for complex heterogeneous systems, particularly for Advanced Life Support (ALS), in the context of support of mission operations. Preliminary investigations undertaken in the summer of 2004 indicate that integration of controls for the type of dynamic, non-linear, closed-loop biological systems under investigation for ALS systems require a different systems engineering approach than that required for traditional avionics systems.
Technical Paper

Modeling a Biological Closed Loop Water Recycling System for Prolonged Manned Space Flight

2004-07-19
2004-01-2511
For prolonged manned spaceflight, recycling of wastewater is critical to minimize payload costs. We have constructed a pilot-scale, closed-loop water recycling system (CLWRS). Due to slow process dynamics, evaluation of multiple experimental scenarios is very time-consuming. To accelerate evaluation, we have developed mathematical models of the individual reactors, as well as a process model of the pilot plant, which combines nitrification, denitrification, recycle, and degassing steps. The simulation accurately reproduces the 35% total nitrogen (TN) reduction observed experimentally at a 20/1 recycle ratio. Both experiments and simulations indicate that biological CLWRS have significant potential for long-duration manned space flight.
Technical Paper

Incorporation of a Membrane-Aerated Bioreactor in a Water Recovery System

2004-07-19
2004-01-2461
The objective of this study was to investigate the potential of membrane-aerated bioreactors as long term microgravity compatible nitrifying biological water processors (BWP). A small-scale (1/20th) replica of the water recovery system (WRS) at JSC has been operated and extensively analyzed at Texas Tech University (TTU) for the last 3 years. The current nitrifying tubular reactor at JSC and TTU has experienced difficulty in maintaining efficiency and low maintenance. In an attempt to increase the efficiency of the biological portion of the WRS, a membrane-aerated bioreactor (MABR) was constructed and operated using the same parameters as the TTU-WRS in August 2003. The MABR is downstream of an anaerobic packed bed and is designed to promote nitrification (NH4 → NOx). The MABR achieved a percent nitrification of 61% and 55% for recycle ratios of 10 and 20, respectively.
Technical Paper

Experiences with a Space and Science Club in a Low-Income Community in South Texas

2005-07-11
2005-01-3101
NASA's mission statement includes the protection of the home planet and a goal to inspire the next generation of explorers. NASA's current vision also includes human exploration of the Moon and Mars. Typically, residents of low-income communities are not directly involved in the space exploration process. Parents of children in low-income communities are inclined to be more interested in the educational components of NASA's activities rather than the technological accomplishments. This paper describes the approach taken to start and support a space and science club in a colonia near the U.S. - Mexico border in South Texas. The club provided a new organizational structure for linking NASA's goals with a low-income community. The structure of the club evolved over the course of three years to reflect the interests and resources of the youth that lived in the colonia.
Technical Paper

Evaluation of a Microgravity Compatible Membrane Bioreactor for Simultaneous Nitrification/Denitrification

2007-07-09
2007-01-3094
The feasibility of a long-term space mission is partially reliant upon the ability to effectively recycle wastewater. Merged biological and physiochemical processes (integrated water recovery systems (IWRS)) are capable of producing potable water at lower equivalent system mass (ESM) than treatment systems composed of only physiochemical processes. Reducing the ESM of the water recycling units can increase the practicality of extended space missions by decreasing payload weight. In order to lower the ESM of the biological pre-treatment component, a single-stage biological reactor capable of simultaneous carbon and nitrogen removal was created by modifying the membrane-aerated biofilm reactor (MABR) design. Studies were performed in order to evaluate the water quality performance of this reactor.
Technical Paper

Effect of Recycle Ratio on the Performance of Biological Water Recovery System

2004-07-19
2004-01-2468
Biological pre-treatment of liquid waste could potentially offer equivalent mass savings for long term space habitation. Previous work has demonstrated the technological feasibility. However, limited work has been conducted on optimizing the biological reactors or fully characterizing the biochemical transformations occurring within the reactors. The objective of these studies was to provide long-term operating data on a proposed and well studied reactor configuration, and explore the effects of RR on system performance. The water recovery system has been in successful operation for over 2 years. Data to be presented will include both typical removal efficiencies for nitrogen species, DOC as well as important water quality parameters. In addition the effect of recycle ratio (2X, 5X, 10X, and 20X) will be quantified.
Technical Paper

Education Outreach Associated with Technology Transfer in a Colonia of South Texas: Green Valley Farms Science and Space Club for Middle School Aged Children in Green Valley Farms, San Benito, Texas

2004-07-19
2004-01-2419
Texas colonias are unincorporated subdivisions characterized by inadequate water and wastewater infrastructure, inadequate drainage and road infrastructure, substandard housing, and poverty. Since 1989 the Texas Legislature has implemented policies to halt further development of colonias and to address water and wastewater infrastructure needs in existing and new colonias along the border with Mexico. Government programs and non-government and private organization projects aim to address these infrastructure needs. Texas Tech University's Water Resources Center demonstrated the use of alternative on-site wastewater treatment in the Green Valley Farms colonia, San Benito, Texas. The work in Green Valley Farms was a component of a NASA-funded project entitled “Evaluation of NASA's Advanced Life Support Integrated Water Recovery System for Non-Optimal Conditions and Terrestrial Applications.” Two households within the colonia were demonstration sites for the constructed wetlands.
Technical Paper

Determining the Effect of Usage and Biota Upon Oxygen Flux Across Tubular Silicone Membranes

2007-07-09
2007-01-3092
Hollow fiber membranes aerate wastewater without bubble formation by separating the liquid and gases phases with a semi-permeable membrane. These membranes have shown to successfully create aerobic conditions within a biological reactor. This research investigated the effect of long term usage and biofilm growth on membrane's ability to transfer oxygen to solution. Results show that oxygen transfer across the membrane decreased significantly compared to unused membranes in areas of high biofilm growth while low biofilm growth showed only slight decreases.
Technical Paper

Determination of the Fate and Behavior of a Commercial Surfactant in a Water Recycle System (WRS)

2003-07-07
2003-01-2558
Bioreactor studies and microcosm experiments were conducted to determine the degradation potential of a commercial cleansing formulation. With the possible replacement of the current cleansing formulation under consideration (Ecolab whole body shampoo containing Igepon TC-42™ as an active ingredient), determination of the degradation characteristics of the alternative formulation is necessary. The commercial formulation currently being evaluated is a modified version of Pert Plus® for Kids (PPK). The degradation potential of the PPK and main surfactant Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) was determined in a packed bed denitrifying bioreactor. Results from the bioreactor studies led to the development of stoichiometric relationships to help predict and monitor SLES degradation. In addition to the degradation rates of Ecolab, the PPK formulation, as well as the four leading constituents contained in the PPK formulation was determined under denitrifying conditions in microcosm studies.
Technical Paper

Chive Growth in Biologically Treated Early Planetary Base Wastewater

2005-07-11
2005-01-2822
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the viability of treating wastewater through edible plant hydroponics. After the harvest in the hydroponic experiment (32 day study period), plant yield for edible biomass (corresponds to the harvested leaves) in wastewater and hydrosol (control) were 0.131 kg/m2 and 0.104 kg/m2, respectively. Potassium, TDS, and TN showed decreasing trends in hydrosol and wastewater during the experiment. Nitrification was observed in the wastewater unit with a significant increase (92.5%) in nitrate mass. Nitrite and ammonium mass in wastewater decreased with time, while hydrosol had negligible amounts of nitrite and ammonium during the study period. Calcium and magnesium masses decreased in the control and increased in wastewater. Wastewater showed a decrease in the mass of TOC (19.7%), while the hydrosol had negligible mass with respect to TOC.
Technical Paper

Biologically Treated Wastewater for NFT Plant Production in Space

2003-07-07
2003-01-2681
This research compared the nutrient content of the Biological Water Processor (BWP) effluent at JSC with acceptable nutrient ranges for general hydroponic NFT-solutions. Evaluated nutrient-components were NO3-N, P, K, Ca, Mg, Fe, Mn, Zn, B, Cu and Mo. Compared to Cooper's and Molyneaux's solution (Jones, 1997) BWP-nutrient concentrations were low for Ca, Mg, Fe and B. Compared to the NFT-solution used at KSC (Wheeler et al., 1997), the BWP-effluent showed higher contents of P, K, Zn, Cu and Mo and lower contents of N, Ca, Mg, Fe and B. This indicates that the BWP-effluent could support NFT-plant production.
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