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Bio-electrochemical oxidation for CO2 recovery in regenerative life support systems

Author
Organization
Abstract
Long term manned space missions or extraterrestrial habitation will require a regenerative means of supplying the basic resources (i.e., food, water, oxygen) necessary to support human life. The MELiSSA concept established within the European space agency is a closed loop compartmentalized artificial ecosystem designed to recycle solid organic wastes (e.g., inedible food waste and feces) for the regeneration of food, water, and oxygen for human consumption. Carbon recycling in this loop depends on decomposition of organically bound carbon to CO2 followed by fixation of CO2 by phototrophic microorganisms and higher plants that serve to provide the food and oxygen. A challenge at this moment for the MELiSSA-loop is closing the carbon cycle, by completely oxidizing the carbon in the organic waste and non-edible parts of theplantintoCO2. Optimizationofathermophilicmembranefermentationreactorforprimary waste treatment has been demonstrated to achieve organic matter degradation efficiencies up to 65%, but with a maximum of 15% carbon recovery as CO2. The balance of carbon remains as soluble organic compounds (mainly volatile fatty acids; VFAs), biomass, and undigested solids. In this study we demonstrate the feasibility of coupling thermophilic fermentation to bio-anodic oxidation in a microbial electrolysis cell (MEC) to drive carbon recovery towards CO2. Bioanodic oxidation has the potential to favor CO2 production over methane, and provide in-situ pH control by electro-migration of hydroxyl ions produced at the cathode across an anion exchange membrane. A five liter fermentation reactor treating a standardized waste composed of redbeets, lettuce, wheatstraw, toiletpaper, and feces was operated continuously for over two years to produce realistic effluents for MEC experiments. The fermentation achieved similar performance to past experiments with an organic matter degradation efficiency of 50% and a VFA production efficiency of approximately 35%. Lab scale MEC batch tests on the permeate showed high removal efficiencies for all VFAs (80-100%) after 7 days with COD and carbon removal efficiencies of 72% achieved. Further tests with synthetic feed were performed to test bio-anode acclimation and stability, and to quantify carbon flow through the reactor. Columbic efficiencies indicate 70% conversion of carbon from acetate and butyrate to CO2 at this stage, though higher conversion may be possible with further process development and optimization. This coupled process could increase CO2 recovery from 15% to 40% on total carbon input in these tests. Additional integration of thermal chemical treatment of the remaining biomass and undigested solids CO2 recovery has the potential to reach at least 85%.

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MLA
Luther, Amanda, Annick Beyaert, Matthias Brutsaert, et al. “Bio-electrochemical Oxidation for CO2 Recovery in Regenerative Life Support Systems.” COSPAR, 42nd Scientific Assembly, Abstracts. COSPAR (Committee on Space Research), 2018. Print.
APA
Luther, A., Beyaert, A., Brutsaert, M., Lasseur, C., Rebeyre, P., & Clauwaert, P. (2018). Bio-electrochemical oxidation for CO2 recovery in regenerative life support systems. COSPAR, 42nd Scientific assembly, Abstracts. Presented at the 42nd COSPAR Scientific Assembly, COSPAR (Committee on Space Research).
Chicago author-date
Luther, Amanda, Annick Beyaert, Matthias Brutsaert, Christophe Lasseur, Pierre Rebeyre, and Peter Clauwaert. 2018. “Bio-electrochemical Oxidation for CO2 Recovery in Regenerative Life Support Systems.” In COSPAR, 42nd Scientific Assembly, Abstracts. COSPAR (Committee on Space Research).
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Luther, Amanda, Annick Beyaert, Matthias Brutsaert, Christophe Lasseur, Pierre Rebeyre, and Peter Clauwaert. 2018. “Bio-electrochemical Oxidation for CO2 Recovery in Regenerative Life Support Systems.” In COSPAR, 42nd Scientific Assembly, Abstracts. COSPAR (Committee on Space Research).
Vancouver
1.
Luther A, Beyaert A, Brutsaert M, Lasseur C, Rebeyre P, Clauwaert P. Bio-electrochemical oxidation for CO2 recovery in regenerative life support systems. COSPAR, 42nd Scientific assembly, Abstracts. COSPAR (Committee on Space Research); 2018.
IEEE
[1]
A. Luther, A. Beyaert, M. Brutsaert, C. Lasseur, P. Rebeyre, and P. Clauwaert, “Bio-electrochemical oxidation for CO2 recovery in regenerative life support systems,” in COSPAR, 42nd Scientific assembly, Abstracts, Pasadena, CA, USA, 2018.
@inproceedings{8573095,
  abstract     = {{Long term manned space missions or extraterrestrial habitation will require a regenerative means of supplying the basic resources (i.e., food, water, oxygen) necessary to support human life. The MELiSSA concept established within the European space agency is a closed loop compartmentalized artificial ecosystem designed to recycle solid organic wastes (e.g., inedible food waste and feces) for the regeneration of food, water, and oxygen for human consumption. Carbon recycling in this loop depends on decomposition of organically bound carbon to CO2 followed by fixation of CO2 by phototrophic microorganisms and higher plants that serve to provide the food and oxygen. A challenge at this moment for the MELiSSA-loop is closing the carbon cycle, by completely oxidizing the carbon in the organic waste and non-edible parts of theplantintoCO2. Optimizationofathermophilicmembranefermentationreactorforprimary waste treatment has been demonstrated to achieve organic matter degradation efficiencies up to 65%, but with a maximum of 15% carbon recovery as CO2. The balance of carbon remains as soluble organic compounds (mainly volatile fatty acids; VFAs), biomass, and undigested solids. In this study we demonstrate the feasibility of coupling thermophilic fermentation to bio-anodic oxidation in a microbial electrolysis cell (MEC) to drive carbon recovery towards CO2. Bioanodic oxidation has the potential to favor CO2 production over methane, and provide in-situ pH control by electro-migration of hydroxyl ions produced at the cathode across an anion exchange membrane. A five liter fermentation reactor treating a standardized waste composed of redbeets, lettuce, wheatstraw, toiletpaper, and feces was operated continuously for over two years to produce realistic effluents for MEC experiments. The fermentation achieved similar performance to past experiments with an organic matter degradation efficiency of 50% and a VFA production efficiency of approximately 35%. Lab scale MEC batch tests on the permeate showed high removal efficiencies for all VFAs (80-100%) after 7 days with COD and carbon removal efficiencies of 72% achieved. Further tests with synthetic feed were performed to test bio-anode acclimation and stability, and to quantify carbon flow through the reactor. Columbic efficiencies indicate 70% conversion of carbon from acetate and butyrate to CO2 at this stage, though higher conversion may be possible with further process development and optimization. This coupled process could increase CO2 recovery from 15% to 40% on total carbon input in these tests. Additional integration of thermal chemical treatment of the remaining biomass and undigested solids CO2 recovery has the potential to reach at least 85%.}},
  author       = {{Luther, Amanda and Beyaert, Annick and Brutsaert, Matthias and Lasseur, Christophe and Rebeyre, Pierre and Clauwaert, Peter}},
  booktitle    = {{COSPAR, 42nd Scientific assembly, Abstracts}},
  language     = {{eng}},
  location     = {{Pasadena, CA, USA}},
  publisher    = {{COSPAR (Committee on Space Research)}},
  title        = {{Bio-electrochemical oxidation for CO2 recovery in regenerative life support systems}},
  year         = {{2018}},
}