(498d) Biomass Pyrolysis for Closing Life Support Loops in Space
Manned spaceflight outside of low-Earth orbit will require significant advances in closing loops within life support systems, especially the recycling of solid and liquid wastes to produce oxygen, food, and fresh water. Within NASA’s Technology Area 06 Human Health, Life Support & Habitation Systems Roadmap, waste management, water recovery and management, and habitation are three of the major Environmental Control & Life Support Systems and Habitation Systems functions. Long-term (2011-2029) technology development goals for these functions include recovering more water from more waste streams, transitioning from waste stabilization and reduction to material recovery, and enabling food production.Pyrolysis, or heating in a limited oxygen environment, is one waste conversion method that has received considerable attention due to its potential to enable improvements in all three functions. Here, we explore the development of a moderate-temperature slow pyrolysis reaction system that can transform solid waste and brine from the water treatment system into a nutrient-rich crop growth medium, while recovering water and carbon dioxide.