A Predictive Model For The Production Rates Of A Bioregenerative Life Support System




Gellenbeck, Sean
Furfaro, Roberto
Giacomelli, Gene
Lepore, Robert

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49th International Conference on Environmental Systems


Future long-term human space flight will require systems that are reliable, sustainable, and can continue to function for the entire length of the mission from a relatively short two-year expedition to Mars to the indefinite colonization of another celestial body. Life support presents a significant challenge to this concept as current technology would require bringing a prohibitively heavy and bulky amount of supplies and consumables and the management of refuse gets more difficult with mission length. An innovative solution that addresses both problems is the use of bioregenerative life support (BLS). In addition to being reliable, these systems operate at ambient conditions which reduces risk and provides psychological benefits to the crew. However, the inclusion of biology as part of a life support system introduces significant complexity and mathematical models that can accurately predict the production rates of these systems are necessary. One such model that describes the production of a higher plants growth system is the Modified Energy Cascade Model (MEC) (Cavazzoni, 2006). Around this model, a wrapper program was developed to allow a system designer to input parameters for a hypothetical design and receive graphics depicting the production rates of said system over the entire course of the proposed mission for two different harvest strategies. In addition to verification with the original Cavazzoni model, four different BLS system example analogues were analyzed to show this utility and highlight potential shortcomings. This tool could be modified to allow the designer to identify deficiencies in the astronauts’ diets and show the effect of variable environmental conditions. In its current form, this tool would have the most potential benefit during the system and concept of operations (ConOps) design phases of a life support system for a long duration human space flight mission.


Sean Gellenbeck, University of Arizona (UA), USA
Roberto Furfaro, University of Arizona (UA), USA
Gene Giacomelli, University of Arizona (UA), USA
Robert Lepore, University of Arizona (UA), USA
ICES204: Bioregenerative Life Support
The 49th International Conference on Environmental Systems was held in Boston, Massachusetts, USA on 07 July 2019 through 11 July 2019.


Bioregenerative Life Support, BLSS, Modified Energy Cascade, MEC, Predictive Model