Analysis of CDC Bioreactor Internal Thermal Measurements and Sample Coupon Temperatures



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2023 International Conference on Environmental Systems


The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) bioreactor is an integral laboratory tool for the Environmental Control and Life Support Systems (ECLSS) biofilm formation and growth research program. Critical to this research is the need to adjust and maintain various surface temperatures of the coupons housed within the CDC Bioreactor. The purpose of this study was to provide quantitative temperature gradient information when the CDC Bioreactor was operating according to several process scenarios. Two primary process parameters were evaluated. For the first set of test parameters, the liquid level was maintained at 350 mL, with an inlet flowrate of 0.1 mL/min, 1 mL/min, 10 mL/min. The liquid was allowed to gravity drain out of the outlet spout. For the second set of test parameters, the liquid level within the reactor was maintained at 550 mL, with an inlet flow of 0.1 mL/min, 1 mL/min, 10mL/min and draining intermittently controlled to 0.8 mL/min to maintain the 550 mL level. Due to the placement of the thermocouple in the reactor, a difference in temperature occurred between the coupon surfaces and target Bioreactor temperature when operated according to the first set of test parameters. When the reactor was operated according to the second set of parameters, which resulted in the thermocouple being submerged, the temperature gradient was eliminated. The results demonstrated minimal temperature gradient between the top and bottom coupon surfaces for coupons placed in a single rod within the CDC Bioreactor for both sets of test parameters evaluated. The collection of this information helped to explain previous ECLSS biofilm formation test runs, along with providing guidance on best operating practices for future ECLSS experiments. The placement of the thermocouple also helps to explain the challenge of achieving and maintaining bulk liquid temperatures when biofilm is grown according to the standardized methods.


Eric Beitle, Jacobs Space Exploration Group (JSEG), USA
Connor Murphy, Jacobs Space Exploration Group (JSEG), USA
Yo-Ann Velez Justiniano, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, USA
Darla Goeres, Montana State University, USA
ICES303: Physio-Chemical Life Support- Water Recovery & Management Systems- Technology and Process Development
The 52nd International Conference on Environmental Systems was held in Calgary, Canada, on 16 July 2023 through 20 July 2023.


Enviromental Control Life Support Systems, CDC Bioreactor, biofilm formation, ECLSS, growth studies