Results of the Alternative Water Processor Test, A Novel Technology for Exploration Wastewater Remediation



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46th International Conference on Environmental Systems


Biologically-based water recovery systems are a regenerative, low energy alternative to physiochemical processes to reclaim water from wastewater. This report summarizes the results of the Alternative Water Processor (AWP) Integrated Test, conducted from June 2013 until April 2014. The system was comprised of four (4) membrane aerated bioreactors (MABRs) to remove carbon and nitrogen from an exploration mission wastewater and a coupled forward and reverse osmosis system to remove large organic and inorganic salts from the biological system effluent. The system exceeded the overall objectives of the test by recovering 90% of the influent wastewater processed into a near potable state and a 64% reduction of consumables from the current state of the art water recovery system on the International Space Station (ISS). However, the biological system fell short of its test goals, failing to remove 75% and 90% of the influent ammonium and organic carbon, respectively. Despite not meeting its test goals, the BWP demonstrated the feasibility of an attached-growth biological system for simultaneous nitrification and denitrification, an innovative, volume- and consumable-saving design that does not require toxic pretreatment.


United States
NASA Johnson Space Center
Texas Tech University
ICES204: Bioregenerative Life Support
Vienna, Austria
Caitlin E. Meyer, Johnson Space Center, USA
Stuart Pensinger, Johnson Space Center, USA
Sarah A. Shull, Johnson Space Center, USA
Niklas Adam, Johnson Space Center, USA
Leticia M. Vega, Jacobs Engineering, USA
Kevin Lange, Jacobs Engineering, USA
Dylan Christenson, Texas Tech University, USA
W. Andrew Jackson, Texas Tech University, USA
The 46th International Conference on Environmental Systems was held in Vienna, Austria, USA on 10 July 2016 through 14 July 2016.


Biological Water Processor (BWP), Membrane Aerated Bioreactor (MABR), Simultaneous Nitrifcation / Denitrification (SND), Biofilm, Wastewater, Alternative Water Processor (AWP)