This content is not published

Life test campaign of the MELiSSA Black Water Treatment Breadboard

Wed, 11/08/2023 - 13:00
Start Date: 
End Date: 
Programme Reference: 
Prime Contractor: 
The core objective of the activity proposed is to perform comprehensive testing of the MELiSSA Black Water Treatment Breadboard under various operating conditions, mimicking different configurations of human mission to space.
The knowledge to be gained, combined with the knowledge already acquired on other waste waters treatment (grey waters), will pave the definition of optimized life support systems architecture versus the considered human mission to space scenario.
For 20 years, ESA has developed technologies in all the main Life Support areas: air and water recycling, waste management, food production, contaminants measurement and control. These technologies have reached different levels of development.
Water need for one crew member is ranking between 3 kg/day, when only potable water and water for food preparation are considered, up to 10 to 15 kg/day, when hygienic water is considered as well. As a consequence, water represents between 60 up to 85% of the total weight of metabolic consumables to be supplied. Water recycling, at the highest achievable recovery ratio, is therefore of the utmost interest to reduce the overall mass of fresh supplies over the duration of a manned mission to space. Although feasibility of individual treatment on separate grey, yellow and black water has been demonstrated, further development steps are needed to progress on their integration.
A preliminary physical coupling of black water treatment (based on MELiSSA C1 compartment process) and yellow water treatment (based on MELiSSA C3 compartment process) has been performed in the frame of Activity CC60 ? Black Water Recycling from the Aurora Exploration Core Programme. A breadboard has been built and used for preliminary investigation of process performances.
However, due to the extreme difficulty to simulate the diversity of wastes composition (waste waters, organic wastes like food residues), a proper demonstration and validation of these technologies cannot be achieved without a Life test campaign.
Major tasks of the activity proposed within this activity are:
  • Optimisation of the existing breadboard.
  • Definition of the Life test campaign addressing various operating conditions, corresponding to different human missions to space and, as a consequence, different Life Support systems configurations and performances e.g. need or not to treat organic wastes like food residues, different proportions of organic wastes versus waste waters, etc.
  • Performance of this Life Test campaign with real wastes.
  • Analysis of the results and formalisation of the generated knowledge in the form of building blocks to serve the overall MELiSSA related knowledge.
Application Domain: 
Technology Domain: 
22 - Environmental Control & Life Support (ECLS) and In Situ Resource Utilisation (ISRU)
Competence Domain: 
6-Life & Physical Science Payloads, Life Support, Robotics & Automation
Initial TRL: 
Target TRL: 
Public Document: