Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2015

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Aerospace Engineering Sciences

First Advisor

David M.. Klaus

Second Advisor

James A.. Nabity

Third Advisor

Louis S. Stodieck

Abstract

Air revitalization is a crucial element in human spaceflight. Current technology is consumable based and only suitable for short duration missions. A potential candidate for long duration spaceflight missions or planetary habitats is algae, which can be used to reduce carbon dioxide to oxygen. Previous work has been performed in characterizing the biological principles of algae regarding their adaptation to different environmental parameters. However, in order to integrate algae into a spacecraft air revitalization system further data is needed. One approach to collect these data is using a flow-through set up that measures input and output gas compositions, which can then be used to determine time dependent adsorption and desorption rates. For algae, however, tests using this approach were not found in the literature. This thesis makes an attempt to get a step closer to enabling an algal flow-through experimental set up. It also shows the challenges that are associated with measuring gas compositions in algal systems, as their oxygen production rate is only 200 fmol/(cell*h). This requires sensor resolutions smaller than 100 ppm and flow rates as low as 10 ml/min. Due to permeability of carbon dioxide through tubing and the solubility of carbon dioxide in water the feasibility could not be proven with a demonstration unit. However, environmental parameters for optimum growth and design recommendations are summarized that will overcome the difficulties and support future flow-through experiments.

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