20, October 2021

ESA Open Invitation to Tender: 1-11014
Open Date: 13/10/2021 09:56 CEST
Closing Date: 24/11/2021 13:00 CEST

Study and characterise a transformation process of Volatile Fatty Acids to CO2 via a known microbial consortium. After waste water,urine and CO2, the resources recovery for future mission requires to consider as well the mission’s organic wastes (food, etc…). If CO2 and water are rather simple molecules, the composition of waste is much more diverse and complex. Carbon being an important mass in all the organic waste, the closure of the carbon balance needs to be carefully demonstrated to ensure that the difference measured between input and output does not result from other parameters such as measurement errors or leakages. Today the main part of the recycling processes are producing methane as a by-product, which is also an end product without recycling utility. However, somelaboratory studies have demonstrated the possibility to replace the methane production by Volatile Fatty Acids (VFA) production, and further on to transform these VFAs to CO2 – which in turn can be used for well identified recycling purposes (e.g. food, Oxygen). This demonstration remains nevertheless very premature and performed with an unknown microbial consortium, not compatible with spacerequirements. This technology based on a bio-electrochemical principle therefore needs to be demonstrated with a known microbial consortium, notably for optimising the process, and characterised at the level of mass and energy balance. In the activity E1X1-013 “C1Characterization and VFA Conversion”, the MEC (VFA to CO2 converter) has been tested on the outputs of the MELiSSA waste compartment. This demonstration of feasibility, and the performances obtained, allows entering a phase more oriented towards engineering of the VFA to CO2 converter engineering, with hardware improvement allowing long-term tests and quantified characterisation. The activitycomprises the following tasks:- Identification of the microbial consortium,- Design of a generic converter prototype (not tailored to specific microorganisms),- Procurement of the relevant laboratory control systems (e.g. temperature, agitation),- Prototype converter manufacture and test,- Characterisation of the transformation process.A demonstration could take place on-board the ISS or a future manned LEO platform.Procurement Policy: C(1) = Activity restricted to non-prime contractors (incl. SMEs). For additional information please go to this link.

Directorate: Directorate of Tech, Eng. Quality
Estabilishment: ESTEC
ECOS Required: No
Classified: No
Price Range: 200-500 KEURO
Authorised Contact Person: Karine Magne-Lie
Initiating Service: TEC-MMG
IP Measure:C1
Prog. Reference: E/0901-01 – Technology Developme
Tender Type: Open Competition
Technology Keywords: 22-A-II-Regenerative Life
Products Keywords: 3-C-1-d-Other

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