MAGNETICALLY ASSISTED GASIFICATION (MAG)

     
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MAGNETIC METHODS FOR MICROGRAVITY AND HYPOGRAVITY COMPATIBLE SOLID WASTE TREATMENT AND RESOURCE RECOVERY IN SUPPORT OF LONG DURATION MANNED MISSIONS IN SPACE

- A joint effort between UMPQUA Research Company and the Chemical Engineering Department of Oregon State University, funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration -


Maintenance of an environment which sustains human life is an essential requirement for manned spaceflight. Environmental Control & Life Support Systems (ECLSS) for spacecraft, lunar and planetary habitats must regulate temperature and pressure, and must replenish the atmosphere with Oxygen, while removing Carbon Dioxide and other potentially harmful vapors. Food and water is also required to sustain the crew for the duration of the mission. For the relatively short flights of the Space Shuttle, sufficient food and water is carried onboard.

However, the need to minimize stowage and the penalty associated with increased launch weight makes this impractical for longer duration missions. For near earth habitations such as the International Space Station or the former Space Station Mir, food can be resupplied using either American or Russian vehicles. Even at this distance from Earth, the resupply of water is very expensive; thus it is advantageous to incorporate water recycling into ECLSS operations.

For future very long duration manned missions, such as Mars Transit, Mars Base, or Lunar Outpost, the Life Support requirements are much more difficult to achieve. This falls within the domain of the Advanced Life Support (ALS) community, which is actively engaged in the development of new and improved systems for Atmospheric Revitalization, Water Recovery & Purification, Food Production, Solid Waste Managment and Resource Recovery.

Our Magnetically Assisted Gasification (MAG) Project focuses on the development of methods for the decomposition of solid waste materials into benign and potentially useful by-products, using magnetic forces to compensate for the absence of gravity. While much work has been done by other ALS research groups toward the decomposition of solid wastes using both biological and physico-chemical techniques, very little has been done in the realm of microgravity and hypogravity (low gravity) compatible methods. While the current thrust of our work is aimed toward solid waste treatment, it is anticipated that the magnetic control methods which result from this work may also be employed in a variety of other ALS, In Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU), and Materials Science applications in microgravity.

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