ALGAL BIOREGENERATIVE SYSTEMS.
Rept. for 1952-1964,
SCHOOL OF AEROSPACE MEDICINE BROOKS AFB TEX
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Algae may be used for partial regeneration of mans requirements for life in a closed environment. Feasibility has been demonstrated with model systems, but established principles of algal metabolism impose severe restrictions on the design of thermodynamically efficient, low-volume and low-weight algal gas exchangers. Review of available data on photosynthetic gas exchangers now permits verification of design parameters predicted almost 10 years ago. Experimentally achievable values of electrical efficiency are only a fraction of the theoretical. Significant improvement over or attainment of theoretical values will require major improvement in the conversion of electrical energy into light energy or conversion of light energy into chemical energy by the green plant. Development of a basic design theory would be greatly simplified by a definite mission-oriented goal--e.g., a planetary base. At present there is no material advantage among existing algal exchangers since criteria used for design require compromises of weight, volume, and power. Most algal gas exchangers are inadequately described. More experimental data, obtained by extensive operation of prototype systems, are needed for accurate logistic evaluation. Weight, volume, and power flexibility may ultimately be of advantage in the design of life-support systems for specific space missions, provided long-term reliability can be demonstrated. Author
- Life Support Systems