Composting on Mars or the Moon: II. Temperature feedback control with top-wise introduction of waste material and air.

M. S. Finstein, J. A. Hogan, J. C. Sager, R. M. Cowan, P. F. Strom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

Whereas Earth-based composting reactors that effectively control the process are batch operations with bottom-to-top airflow, in extraterrestrial application both the fresh waste and the air need to be introduced from above. Stabilized compost and used air would exit below. This materials flow pattern permits the addition of waste whenever generated, obviating the need for multiple reactors, and the incorporation of a commode in the lid. Top loading in turn dictates top-down aeration, so that the most actively decomposing material (greatest need for heat removal and O2 replenishment) is first encountered. This novel material and aeration pattern was tested in conjunction with temperature feedback process control. Reactor characteristics were: working, volume, 0.15 m3; charge, 2 kg dry biomass per day (comparable to a 3-4 person self-sufficient bioregenerative habitat); retention time, 7 days. Judging from temperature profile, O2 level, air usage, pressure head loss, moisture, and odor, the system was effectively controlled over a 35-day period. Dry matter disappearance averaged 25% (10-42%). The compost product was substantially, though not completely, stabilized. This demonstrates the compatibility of top-wise introduction of waste and air with temperature feedback process control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-191
Number of pages11
JournalLife support & biosphere science : international journal of earth space
Volume6
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine(all)

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