Operating Water Treatment and Recycling Systems in Isolated Environments

Date

2020-07-31

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Publisher

2020 International Conference on Environmental Systems

Abstract

"The availability of water is a key element for enabling life in long-distance extra-terrestrial environments. Water is essential for consumption and hygienic use by the crew. Moreover, water is a fluid for thermal management systems, a barrier against high energy radiation, a source of hydrogen and oxygen and a solvent enabling multiple (bio)chemical reactions. Providing water for remote habitats in isolated environments is challenging due to logistics and constraints regarding energy, volume and weight requirements. This is also the case for the Antarctic Research Station Princess Elisabeth. The building is located 200 km inland and accommodates during the summer season up to 50 scientists and crew members. The configuration of a water treatment system depends on the nature of contaminants in the feed water and the quality objectives for the produced water. The best adapted technology to satisfy the requirements might combine biological processes, membrane technology, physicochemical processes, precipitation and electrochemistry. The limited renewable energy available from sun and wind, is only used for production of drinking water from snow when necessary. Recycling waste water consumes 80 % less energy than melting snow. The waste water of the station is treated by combined processes including anaerobic fermentation, nitrification and denitrification, filtration, adsorption and disinfection. Sensors and analysers allow to implement advanced control algorithms to guarantee a safe and reliable operation of the units and minimising energy consumption. During the season 2018, a recycling efficiency of 95 % was achieved. Selected microorganisms enable a successful start-up of the plant after the hibernation period during winter season when the station is abandoned. Operational experiences and results obtained during the exploitation of the water treatment plant of the station is a valuable source of information for the design of future water treatment and conditioning systems for extra-errestrial environments.

Description

Dries Demey, QinetiQ Space, BE
Aymar de Lichtervelde,International Polar Foundation, BE
ICES204: Bioregenerative Life Support
The proceedings for the 2020 International Conference on Environmental Systems were published from July 31, 2020. The technical papers were not presented in person due to the inability to hold the event as scheduled in Lisbon, Portugal because of the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Keywords

Water recycling, Water treatment and conditioning, Biological processes, Membrane technology, Operations, Antarctic research station Princess Elisabeth

Citation