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Development of a Gravity-Independent Wastewater Bioprocessor for Advanced Life Support in Space

Majda Nashashibi-Rabah, Christos Christodoulatos and George P. Korfiatis
Water Environment Research
Vol. 77, No. 2 (Mar. - Apr., 2005), pp. 138-145
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25045851
Page Count: 8
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Development of a Gravity-Independent Wastewater Bioprocessor for Advanced Life Support in Space
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Abstract

Operation of aerobic biological reactors in space is controlled by a number of challenging constraints, mainly stemming from mass transfer limitations and phase separation. Immobilized-cell packed-bed bioreactors, specially designed to function in the absence of gravity, offer a viable solution for the treatment of gray water generated in space stations and spacecrafts. A novel gravity-independent wastewater biological processor, capable of carbon oxidation and nitrification of high-strength aqueous waste streams, is presented. The system, consisting of a fully saturated pressurized packed bed and a membrane oxygenation module attached to an external recirculation loop, operated continuously for over one year. The system attained high carbon oxidation efficiencies often exceeding 90% and ammonia oxidation reaching approximately 60%. The oxygen supply module relies on hydrophobic, nonporous, oxygen selective membranes, in a shell and tube configuration, for transferring oxygen to the packed bed, while keeping the gaseous and liquid phases separated. This reactor configuration and operating mode render the system gravity-independent and suitable for space applications.

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