Research funded by the European Space Agency into ways of feeding future astronauts on missions to Mars is about to find a very down-to-earth application - how to dispose of the sewage sludge left over after wastewater treatment.
The MELISSA (Micro-Ecological Life Support Alternative) project, which ESA is funding in companies and research institutes throughout Europe, is developing a system of recycling as much of the waste as possible produced by astronauts on long-duration space missions into food and other consumables. EPAS, a Belgian company participating in the project, is using some of the research results to devise methods of substantially reducing the amount of solid material left over after sewage treatment on Earth.
Presently-available technologies reduce the amount of solid waste left in effluent such as pig waste, vegetable waste or sewage by 40-60% at most, according to Dries Demey from EPAS. In space, it`s essential to find ways of using the remainder. On Earth, it`s not essential, but would be highly desirable. At present, this undigested fraction is disposed of in landfill sites or, when suitable, by spreading on agricultural land. "In Flanders, there`s not a lot of land and the tax on sludge disposal at landfill sites is getting higher," says Demey.
Whether in space or on Earth, waste initially enters a fermentation chamber where carefully chosen bacteria break down the solids. As this process is unable to biodegrade recalcitrant fractions, EPAS began investigating additional treatments to reduce the waste further.
Christophe Lasseur | alphagalileo
Safeguarding sustainability through forest certification mapping
27.06.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Dune ecosystem modelling
26.06.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers
Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...
Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.
At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...
3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects
A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...
Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.
For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...
What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.
To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...
21.07.2017 | Event News
19.07.2017 | Event News
12.07.2017 | Event News
25.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
25.07.2017 | Earth Sciences
25.07.2017 | Life Sciences