Investigations into the Performance of Membrane-Aerated Biological Reactors Treating a Space Based Waste Stream



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


46th International Conference on Environmental Systems


Two demonstration size membrane aerated biological reactors (MABR) CoMANDR 1.0 and CoMANDR 2.0 have previously demonstrated their ability to stabilize an early planetary base (EPB) waste stream over operating periods of ~1 year. Biological stabilization includes oxidation (>90%) of dissolved organic matter to CO2, partial conversion of organic N to NOx-, and reduced pH. Biological stabilization has a number of advantages including: 1) elimination of hazardous pre-treat chemicals; 2) production of N2(gas); 3) production of metabolic water; 3) a low pH effluent that facilitates membrane and distillation processes; and 4) a effluent that produces a better quality and less hazardous brine for water recovery. Preliminary analysis suggests that water recovery systems that integrated biological treatment may trade favorably compared to all physical/chemical systems. However, previous systems have incorporated reactor geometries and membrane specific surface areas which are not flight compatible. The R-CoMANDR (rectangular Counter-diffusion Membrane Aerated Nitrifying Denitrifying Reactor) system was developed to evaluate the ability of the smaller footprint reactor treat the range of possible waste streams (e.g. ISS to EPB) as well as the potential to operate without a feed tank. Individual waste streams (e.g. urine, hygiene, laundry, humidity condensate) are directly fed to the reactor on production. We will present performance data and evaluate the new flight like system design compared to previous systems.


United States
Texas Tech University
ICES303: Physio-Chemical Life Support- Water Recovery & Management Systems- Technology and Process Development
Vienna, Austria
Ritesh Sevanthi, Texas Tech University, USA
Dylan Christenson, Texas Tech University, USA
Audra Morse, Texas Tech University, USA
W. Andrew Jackson, Texas Tech University, USA
Caitlin Meyer, Johnson Space Center, USA
Leticia Vega, Johnson Space Center, USA
The 46th International Conference on Environmental Systems was held in Vienna, Austria, USA on 10 July 2016 through 14 July 2016.


Biological waste water treatment, Nitrification, Carbon Oxidation, Water Reuse