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Technical Paper

Evaluation of Biological Trickling Filter Performance for Graywater Treatment in ALS Systems

The Bioregenerative Air Treatment for Health system has been proposed for Advanced Life Support (ALS) planetary base applications. The system will be operated as a biotrickling filter to simultaneously treat graywater and waste gas. Preliminary experiments have focused on carbon removal from a graywater simulant. Six bench scale biotrickling filter reactors were constructed and monitored continuously. After a reactor startup phase of 40 days, the average total organic carbon (TOC) removal for reactors packed with Tri-packs® packing material was 62%. A second set of experiments was designed to evaluate TOC removal using different packing materials (Bee-cell and Biobale). It was hypothesized that the alternative packing materials would reduce the effects of channeling in the reactors, thus improving TOC removal. However, TOC removal did not significantly improve during the second set of experiments.
Technical Paper

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

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

Simultaneous Biodegradation of a Two-Phase Fluid: Discolored Biofilm Issues

Three replicate aerobic-heterotrophic biotrickling filters were designed to promote the simultaneous biodegradation of graywater and a waste gas containing NH3, H2S and CO2. Upon visual observation of discolored solids, it was originally hypothesized that gas-phase CO2 concentrations were excessive, causing regions of anoxic zones to form within the biotrickling filters. Observed discolored (black) biofilm of this nature is typically assumed to be either lysed bacterial cells or anaerobic regions, implying alteration of operational conditions. Solid (biofilm) samples were collected in the presence and absence of gas-phase wastestream(s) to determine if the gas-phase contaminants were contributing to the solid-phase discoloration. Two sets of experiments (shaker flask and solids characterization) were conduced to determine the nature of the discolored solids. Results indicated that the discolored solids were neither anaerobic bacteria nor lysed cells.