Application of Membrane Bioreactors in the Preliminary Treatment of Early Planetary Planetary Base Wastewater for Long Duration Space Missions

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Due to the constrain of microgravity environment in space, Membrane Bioreactors (MBRs) is the preferred technology for the preliminary treatment of the Early Planetary Base Wastewater (EPBW). For long duration in-flight applications, irreversible membrane biofouling resulted from the strong attachment of biomass and the formation of biofilms is the major concern for MBR process. In this study, a MBR has been operated for 230 days treating synthetic EPBW. The reactor has demonstrated excellent treatment performance in terms of COD removal and nitrification. Filtration resistance is mainly caused by concentration polarization, reversible fouling, and irreversible fouling. Analysis of the microbial communities in the planktonic and the corresponding sessile biomass suggested that the microbial community of the planktonic biomass was significantly different from the one of the sessile biomass. This study provides valuable
information of the development of water reuse component in NASA’s Advanced Life Support system for long term space missions.

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