MELiSSA pilot plant

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Planta piloto MELiSSA
Planta piloto MELiSSA
Planta piloto MELiSSA
  • Client: UAB / ESA
  • Country: Spain
  • Start date: 2009
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Pilot plant of the Micro-Ecological Life Support System Alternative (MELISSA).

MELiSSA is an international collaboration led by the European Space Agency (ESA) that is focused on developing a self-sustainable life support system for long-duration space missions. The goal of MELISSA is to generate food, recover water and regenerate the atmosphere by using the concomitant waste products, that is, CO2 and organic waste, and utilising light as an energy source.

Due to the challenge this represents, a pilot plant was opened in 2009 at the facilities of the Autonomous University of Barcelona. The goal of the MELiSSA pilot plant is to gradually integrate and demonstrate, in terrestrial conditions, the various processes involved in MELiSSA for their subsequent adjustment to space.

SENER is involved in the pilot plant by developing the hardware and control software needed to manage the various compartments that comprise the MELiSSA pilot plant. SENER is responsible for control equipment, as well as for the SCADA system that oversees the entire process at the plant.

  • Specifications:
  • The MELiSSA plant consists of five compartments: compartment C1 handles the decay of the waste, C3 the nitrification process, C4a/C4a the production of oxygen and biomass, while compartment C5 simulates the crew.
  • Using this set-up, the plant expects to produce at least 100% of the O2 and 20% of the food a person needs every day, as well as to recycle 100% of the waste and CO2.
  • Some of the individual compartments were recently integrated (connection of two compartments in the liquid, solid or gaseous phase). The next milestone, expected in 2019, is to integrate and operate multiple compartments in a closed cycle.

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