CDC Bioreactor Configuration Method for Volume Level Control with Controlled Inlet and Outlet Flow



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2023 International Conference on Environmental Systems


Environmental Control Life Support Systems and other microbiological biofilm studies often utilize small scale bioreactors. Among these options are the popular BioSurface CDC bioreactors, currently being utilized by Marshall Space Flight Center groups researching the impact of biofilms on life support systems. After a recent experimental regime, it was determined additional equipment could be added to augment the capabilities of the bioreactors. Previous research configurations such as ASTM E3161 – 18 relied on an outlet stream gravity draining from a side drain port located above sampling coupons. This limited applications to experimental conditions with a controlled inlet and uncontrolled outlet flow. With the introduction of a small single pole single throw (SPST) reed float switch, a peristaltic pump connected to the outlet drain and a chassis controller, the bioreactor is able to maintain a set level. The modification allows additional variables to be tested, including highly adjustable fill and flush cycles, bioreactor volume, draining and filling control. Once the configuration modifications were implemented through the installation of the new equipment, data was collected to ensure the stability of the level measurements. As the level control switch is a float switch, consideration was taken into account for effects of internal stirring speed, along with effects of inlet and outlet flow rate. Data presented in this study will illustrate the stability and effectiveness of the configuration changes in equipment made to the bioreactor. These configuration changes are proving an effective control method to conduct biofilm mitigation techniques for ECLSS hardware research. The controlled level capabilities allow for a constant drip feed flow rate into the bioreactors, a key aspect of the biofilm mitigation testing.


Connor Murphy, Jacobs Space Exploration Group (JSEG), USA
Eric Beitle, Jacobs Space Exploration Group (JSEG), USA
Yo-Ann Velez Justiniano, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, 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.


ECLSS, Enviromental Control Life Support Systems, CDC Bioreactor, Biofilm, ASTM E3161-18, level control, volume control