This document outlines the proposed biological recycling scheme for the
Artemis moonbase. The timespan covered starts with the arrival of the
greenhouse on the second flight, and continues until the habitat becomes
large enough to support a self-balancing ecosystem.
This is a purely qualitative analysis, and does not delve much deeper than
a basic outline of the whole system. Crop types, air purity requirements,
so forth are discussed elsewhere.
Why Artemis Is Not Like Biosphere II
While much can be learned from Biosphere II, very little will be applicable
until power reseves and spare habitable volume are high. Biosphere II was
as an experimental ecosystem enclosing an enormous area, holding hundreds
of biomass and water, supporting only 6 humans who did nothing but tend the
farm, and was supplied with an external, regular 12/24 light cycle.
Our initial base will have perhaps a tonne or so at best of biomass, an
enclosed area perhaps one half that
of Biosphere II, a few of tonnes of water which will also be required
for power storage, and a light cycle which
consists of 14 continuous days of light and intense heat followed by a
similar period of absolute dark and extreme cold.
While our air could be recycled using chemical techniques, we need to
recycle the human organic wastes
into food. Instead of composting (which locks up recycled materials and
creates waste gas),
the energy of the sun is used to break down the wastes -- together with any
pathogens and compounds that would otherwise accumulate in the system like dioxins --
into carbon dioxide and the components for chemical fertilizers.
The sun's energy is then used to form ammonia- and nitrate-based fertilizers from the
waste gasses, furnace ash, and some hydrogen
produced by electrolysis of water. Nothing is wasted. Excess oxygen from
the electrolysis is introduced to the atmosphere, possibly supplementing
the plants during the lunar night when lamps are used. The fertilizers are
used to feed the plants hydroponically
while they convert the carbon dioxide into oxygen and food.
As the solar furnaces have to shut down at night, "night soil" needs to be
stored until daybreak. Dumped in external
tanks as sludge, it will freeze, halting biological activity. Come daybreak,
it will be defrosted and processed. This
temporary shutdown prevents some carbon dioxide from being returned to the
generator, compensating for the reduced
efficiency of the plants under lamps.
Water is recovered by distillation of the human and plant wastes,
extraction from the air via air conditioning,
and as a byproduct of burning the solid wastes with excess oxygen. As the furnaces
shut down at night, our water storage system
has to cope until daybreak. Some potable water will be produced by power
generation, but that may be better left there.
The water can be stored as "grey" water -- water good enough to bathe in
once irradiated with UV light,
but probably not quite good enough to drink. Potable water is produced by
passing grey water through a reverse osmosis filter.
This presents a physical barrier to pathogens and contaminants, providing
safety and greater confidence to the users.
While the flowchart below may seem complex, this is a full, closed-cycle
environmental system. Consideration needs to be given to duplicating vital
components, possibly making sure that one part has several uses so that a
working part can be shunted around the system
in an emergency. As well as mechanical problems, there are potential
biological upsets which could be catered for by using independent
greenhouse systems with crops that will tolerate each other's diseases.
Copyright © 2007 Artemis Society International, for the
contributors. All rights reserved.
This web site contains many trade names and copyrighted articles and images.
Viktor Austin Olliver.
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Updated Mon, Mar 6, 2000.