Systems integration and analysis of advanced life support technologies
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Extended missions to space have long been a goal of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Accomplishment of NASA's goal requires the development of systems and tools for sustaining human life for periods of several months to several years. This is the primary objective of NASA's Advanced Life Support (ALS) program. This work contributes directly to NASA efforts for ALS, particularly food production. The objective of this work is to develop a systematic methodology for analyzing and improving or modifying ALS technologies to increase their acceptability for implementation in long-duration space missions. By focusing primarily on the food production systems, it is an aim of this work to refine the procedure for developing and analyzing the ALS technologies. As a result of these efforts, researchers will have at their disposal, a powerful tool for establishing protocols for each technology as well as for modifying each technology to meet the standards for practical applications. To automate the developed methodology and associated calculations, a computer-aided tool has been developed. The following systematic procedures are interrelated and automatically integrated into the computer-aided tool: • Process configuration, with particular emphasis given to food production (e.g., syrup and flour from sweet potato, starch from sweet potato, breakfast cereal from sweet potato); • Modeling and analysis for mass and energy tracking and budgeting; • Mass and energy integration • Metrics evaluation (e.g., Equivalent System Mass (ESM)). Modeling and analysis is achieved by developing material- and energy-budgeting models. Various forms of mass and energy are tracked through fundamental as well as semiempirical models. Various system alternatives are synthesized and screened using ESM and other metrics. The results of mass, energy and ESM analyses collectively revealed the major consumers of time, equivalent mass, and energy, namely evaporation, condensation, dehydration, drying and extrusion. The targeted processes were subsequently targeted for modifications. In conclusion, this work provides a systematic methodology for transforming non-conventional problems into traditional engineering design problems, a significant contribution to ALS studies.
Nworie, Grace A. (2006). Systems integration and analysis of advanced life support technologies. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from