Dynamic Simulation of Performance and Mass, Power, and Volume prediction of an Algal Life Support System



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49th International Conference on Environmental Systems


The use of state-of-the-art physicochemical life support systems will be a limiting factor on future long-duration human spaceflight missions due to the lack of frequent resupply capability. Cultivation of algae in a photobioreactor is a promising bioregenerative alternative for combined air revitalization, waste water treatment, and food supplement production. In order to correctly size a membrane-based, flat-panel photobioreactor for a biological life support system, a dynamic simulation model was developed that predicts algal growth under varying environmental influences. The model is integrated into the dynamic life support simulation tool V-HAB, which has been under development at the Technical University of Munich since 2006. With the newly developed algae model and previously developed Common Cabin Air Assembly (CCAA) and Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly (CDRA) models, VHAB is used to simulate the interactions between a photobioreactor and a crew of 5 astronauts in a spacecraft cabin. The influence of an algal photobioreactor on fluctuating carbon dioxide and oxygen levels due to human activity in a spacecraft cabin and the related energy consumption are determined. Mass, power, and volume estimations for the simulated life support system architecture are made in this paper and a path forward is presented to outline the future work required to achieve the integration of a photobioreactor into a spacecraft cabin and improve the model validity.


Thomas Ruck, Technical University of Munich, Germany
Tobias Niederwieser, University of Colorado, Boulder, USA
Daniel Pütz, Technical University of Munich, Germany
ICES300: ECLSS Modeling and Test Correlations
The 49th International Conference on Environmental Systems was held in Boston, Massachusetts, USA on 07 July 2019 through 11 July 2019.


Algal Life Support System, Photobioreactor, Dynamic Simulation, VHAB