A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2
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    Griffon

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    Default space farming, space sewage, et cetera.

    If we are going to live in space, we need to make food in space, and that is going to mean recycling.

    It is very important that any and all pathogens and parasites die in the recycling process, and that very little is lost. Exposing waste to vacuum may kill some things, but it is likely to lose a lot of gases and some liquids may evaporate.
    The end of what Son? The story? There is no end. There's just the point where the storytellers stop talking.

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    Brother Oni's Avatar

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    Default Re: space farming, space sewage, et cetera.

    Quote Originally Posted by halfeye View Post
    If we are going to live in space, we need to make food in space, and that is going to mean recycling.

    It is very important that any and all pathogens and parasites die in the recycling process, and that very little is lost. Exposing waste to vacuum may kill some things, but it is likely to lose a lot of gases and some liquids may evaporate.
    I'm sure running the waste to an unshielded portion of the space craft and exposing it to cosmic radiation would also do a good job of killing off pathogens and parasites (unless it leads to the creation of the Toxic Avenger ).

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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: space farming, space sewage, et cetera.

    You need bacteria and fungi to break the bio-wastes down in to compounds that your crops can use, and symbiotic microbes, such as nitrogen-fixing bacteria in some of the plants. Plus any pollinators you might need to maintain your crops.

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    Griffon

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    Default Re: space farming, space sewage, et cetera.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brother Oni View Post
    I'm sure running the waste to an unshielded portion of the space craft and exposing it to cosmic radiation would also do a good job of killing off pathogens and parasites (unless it leads to the creation of the Toxic Avenger ).
    Yeah, but you don't want to expose it to vacuum, and cosmic radiation is random and tends to be high energy and/or easily shielded, eg glass might block it, as it does UV.

    Quote Originally Posted by Storm_Of_Snow View Post
    You need bacteria and fungi to break the bio-wastes down in to compounds that your crops can use, and symbiotic microbes, such as nitrogen-fixing bacteria in some of the plants. Plus any pollinators you might need to maintain your crops.
    Yes, this is a problem, though pollinators maybe less so with for example algae. I'm not sure what should be grown for protein, beans? (legumes would be necessary for nitrogen fixture) crickets? worms?
    The end of what Son? The story? There is no end. There's just the point where the storytellers stop talking.

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    gomipile's Avatar

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    Default Re: space farming, space sewage, et cetera.

    As long as you're careful about separating different types of biological waste between specific process lines, we already have a set of processes for doing this: Composting.

    I'm assuming that doing further research on composting in low-G and microgravity would be more efficient long-term than spending a lot of energy on mass-sterilization of waste.

    Then again, it might turn out that for very small farms in isolated habitats, more control is needed over the microbiome and sterilization might be needed to allow the needed level of control. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
    Quote Originally Posted by Harnel View Post
    where is the atropal? and does it have a listed LA?

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    DwarfClericGuy

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    Default Re: space farming, space sewage, et cetera.

    Quote Originally Posted by halfeye View Post
    Yeah, but you don't want to expose it to vacuum, and cosmic radiation is random and tends to be high energy and/or easily shielded, eg glass might block it, as it does UV.
    That's not right... Higher energy radiation of a given type is harder to shield than lower energy radiation. The higher the energy, the more damage it's likely to do. For charged particles you also need to be able to contain the secondary particles which are created. Since higher z materials result in more secondaries, polyethylene is one of the more effective shield materials. Even so, 5-7 cm of poly only blocks about 30-35% of the radiation; you'd need several meters to block it completely.

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    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: space farming, space sewage, et cetera.

    Originally Posted by halfeye
    …cosmic radiation is random and tends to be high energy and/or easily shielded….
    Cosmic energy is not easily shielded against, and this makes for a significant design challenge, because adequate shielding is mass-intensive and that requires more fuel for any delta V.

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    Griffon

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    Default Re: space farming, space sewage, et cetera.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Cardew View Post
    That's not right... Higher energy radiation of a given type is harder to shield than lower energy radiation. The higher the energy, the more damage it's likely to do. For charged particles you also need to be able to contain the secondary particles which are created. Since higher z materials result in more secondaries, polyethylene is one of the more effective shield materials. Even so, 5-7 cm of poly only blocks about 30-35% of the radiation; you'd need several meters to block it completely.
    I am trying to say that radiation of a higher energy is rarer, so if you have a square area that needs to be cleaned, strong radiation will typically hit small areas within that and miss the rest, whereas weak radiation may not be strong enough. People have to be able to live there too, probably.
    The end of what Son? The story? There is no end. There's just the point where the storytellers stop talking.

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    DwarfClericGuy

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    Default Re: space farming, space sewage, et cetera.

    Quote Originally Posted by halfeye View Post
    I am trying to say that radiation of a higher energy is rarer, so if you have a square area that needs to be cleaned, strong radiation will typically hit small areas within that and miss the rest, whereas weak radiation may not be strong enough. People have to be able to live there too, probably.
    The flux is relatively uniform, everything in that volume is getting bathed equally. The most common energy for cosmic rays is in the GeV range. While hits are stochastic, if something sits there long enough, it will be sterilized. Of course, how long etc is going to depend on system volumes. If you have a small system that you want to recycle quickly, you're probably better off slapping your own linac on board and irradiating it the same way we do food on earth. Just aim it out.

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    DwarfClericGuy

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    Default Re: space farming, space sewage, et cetera.

    Quote Originally Posted by halfeye View Post
    I'm not sure what should be grown for protein, beans? (legumes would be necessary for nitrogen fixture) crickets? worms?
    The top ones would be edamame and lentils on the vegetable side; crickets and mealworms on the animal side.

    Wouldn't want to rely on one or the other; in case of a failure in one area, you always have a backup.
    May you get EXACTLY what you wish for.

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    ElfRangerGuy

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    Default Re: space farming, space sewage, et cetera.

    I guess for the recycling bit, you can build on what they have in the ISS at the moment. The bigger issue is going to be gravity, as most plants require that as well. I know there have been experiments in the ISS with plants, but I don't know what the results were.
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    Excession's Avatar

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    Default Re: space farming, space sewage, et cetera.

    Quote Originally Posted by halfeye View Post
    If we are going to live in space, we need to make food in space, and that is going to mean recycling.

    It is very important that any and all pathogens and parasites die in the recycling process, and that very little is lost. Exposing waste to vacuum may kill some things, but it is likely to lose a lot of gases and some liquids may evaporate.
    The gold standard for killing pathogens is heat. Push anything that might be infected through an autoclave then compost the result.

    That composting would need to be done very carefully though. If your composting system starts growing an undesirable bacteria, yeast, or fungus you can't just toss it and start over. I imagine you might multiple colonies of the good bacteria alive in laboratory conditions and add them to the stuff to composted in batches, then sterilise everything after each cycle.
    Last edited by Excession; 2021-10-07 at 07:30 PM.

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    MindFlayer

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    Default Re: space farming, space sewage, et cetera.

    Quote Originally Posted by farothel View Post
    I guess for the recycling bit, you can build on what they have in the ISS at the moment. The bigger issue is going to be gravity, as most plants require that as well. I know there have been experiments in the ISS with plants, but I don't know what the results were.
    They have an experimental mini-garden called "Veggie", about which NASA says:

    To date, Veggie has successfully grown a variety of plants, including three types of lettuce, Chinese cabbage, mizuna mustard, red Russian kale and zinnia flowers. The flowers were especially popular with astronaut Scott Kelly, who picked a bouquet and photographed it floating in the cupola against the backdrop of Earth. Some of the plants were harvested and eaten by the crew members, with remaining samples returned to Earth to be analyzed.

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    Griffon

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    Default Re: space farming, space sewage, et cetera.

    Quote Originally Posted by Excession View Post
    The gold standard for killing pathogens is heat. Push anything that might be infected through an autoclave then compost the result.

    That composting would need to be done very carefully though. If your composting system starts growing an undesirable bacteria, yeast, or fungus you can't just toss it and start over. I imagine you might multiple colonies of the good bacteria alive in laboratory conditions and add them to the stuff to composted in batches, then sterilise everything after each cycle.
    Heat is one thing, may well be the correct thing.

    Another is redundancy, have four or more compost heaps (or whatever, it probably cannot be that simple), and discard one if it goes wonky, but then restart it by splitting one of the ones that's still going good after purging it with heat. Steralise stuff then feed it to a compost heap may well be the way to do things.

    Farms up there will be the real start of space colonisation.
    Last edited by halfeye; 2021-10-11 at 12:57 PM.
    The end of what Son? The story? There is no end. There's just the point where the storytellers stop talking.

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