Viable Biomass Probe for a Life Support System Bioreactor
This work describes the development and results of a biomass probe for the first compartment of MELiSSA. MELiSSA is the acronym for Micro-Ecological Life Support System Alternative, an European Space Agency (ESA) project whose goal is the development of the technology for a future regenerative life support system for long term manned space missions. The system consists of 5 compartments where food, water and oxygen should be recovered from waste. The first compartment, developed by the Belgian company EPAS NV., carries out the biological degradation of the waste produced by the crew and other organic materials. Its core element is a bioreactor colonised by thermophilic anoxygenic bacteria. The Spanish company NTE S.A. and the UPC group have developed a viable biomass probe called Viamass for that bioreactor. The measurement principle is the electrical impedance spectroscopy in the 1 kHz-10 MHz range. The most restrictive requirement has been the size. The probe should fit in a Mettler- Toledo retractable housing which imposes a probe dimensions of 12 mm ∅ and 250 mm length. The probe tip operates at 55ºC and includes a remote front-end, placed close to the four stainless-steel electrodes.
KeywordsEuropean Space Agency Biomass Density Life Support System Viable Cell Density Remote Computer
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