Synthetic Biology and Microbial Fuel Cells: Towards Self-Sustaining Life Support Systems

Metadata Updated: May 2, 2019

NASA ARC and the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) collaborated to investigate the development of advanced microbial fuels cells (MFCs) for biological wastewater treatment and electricity production (electrogenesis). Synthetic biology techniques and integrated hardware advances were investigated to increase system efficiency/robustness, with the intent of increasing power self-sufficiency and potential product formation from carbon dioxide. MFCs possess numerous advantages for space missions, including rapid processing, reduced biomass and effective removal of organics, nitrogen and phosphorus. Project efforts include developing space-based MFC concepts, integration analyses, increasing energy efficiency, and investigating novel bioelectrochemical system applications. Innovative strategies are needed to overcome current limitations of wastewater treatment systems in space, while maximizing resource recovery (e.g., energy, water, CO2) and providing substantial cost savings. JCVI is developing MFC technologies that rapidly and efficiently treat high-organic wastewaters with simultaneous electricity generation. This approach employs fixed-film microbial communities as biocatalysts to efficiently oxidize organic compounds into electrons, protons and carbon dioxide. The electrons are biologically transferred to a conductive anode electrode and flow across the MFC circuit, generating a modest electric current. The reduction reactions occur at the MFC cathode electrode using a biotic or abiotic catalyst to reduce electrons, protons, and air to actually produce new (pure) water. This strategy accelerates treatment, decreases secondary sludge biomass, reduces waste gases from anaerobic digestion of solid material, controls unwanted fixed films by accelerated energy removal from biological components and does not necessitate solid and liquid waste separation. MFCs may also treat select [HTML_REMOVED]problem[HTML_REMOVED] compounds not captured by membrane-based technologies, thereby enabling a new class of water processing systems that significantly increase reliability and savings over current technologies.

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Public: This dataset is intended for public access and use. License: U.S. Government Work

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Metadata Created Date August 1, 2018
Metadata Updated Date May 2, 2019

Metadata Source

Harvested from NASA Data.json

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Resource Type Dataset
Metadata Created Date August 1, 2018
Metadata Updated Date May 2, 2019
Publisher Space Technology Mission Directorate
Unique Identifier TECHPORT_10632
Maintainer Email
Public Access Level public
Bureau Code 026:00
Metadata Context
Metadata Catalog ID
Schema Version
Catalog Describedby
Datagov Dedupe Retained 20190501230127
Harvest Object Id f7f61de7-9dbb-4535-9891-2736cccb9b1d
Harvest Source Id 39e4ad2a-47ca-4507-8258-852babd0fd99
Harvest Source Title NASA Data.json
Data First Published 2012-01-01
Homepage URL
Data Last Modified 2018-07-19
Program Code 026:027
Source Datajson Identifier True
Source Hash 1296b66b47faf6177084939494875b1896934d6e
Source Schema Version 1.1

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