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Thread: Recycling on Mars - Wastewater Sewage, Utilization of Resources, Earth Impact etc.

  1. #1
    Super Moderator OIBALOS's Avatar
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    Arrow Recycling on Mars - Wastewater Sewage, Utilization of Resources, Earth Impact etc.

    Ahoi!

    One of the most crucial aspects of Mars One will be the successful recycling of water (esp. wastewater), oxygen, metals, plastics, plants, tools, drapery, perhaps even excrement and so on.

    How could these processes work? What is needed for them? What could be created from recycled materials or compounds?

    This is also essential and a main driving factor for progress in these regards on Earth.
    Highly efficient and easy-to-apply recycling on Mars would lead to greater efforts to recycle things properly back on Earth.

    Please share your thoughts here! Thanks.


    PS: There already are different threads on single aspects of recycling that may have intersections with this topic.
    Such being Oxygen on Mars; Water on Mars; Food on Mars; Mars Regolith; 3D Printers; Resources on Mars.


    However, we want to paint the "big picture" here, examine wholistic approaches to recycling and think about the public image that could be created by Mars One.

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    Super Moderator Explorer's Avatar
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    Excrement deposits could be used as an additional layer of radiation protection.

    P.S. I can't stop laughing at this thought and image.

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    Super Moderator OIBALOS's Avatar
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    I was thinking along those lines, yeah... Imagine the headlines:
    "Martians buried under crap"
    "It's all so shitty on Mars"
    "Now look! On Mars you live in a turd"

    Haha. Priceless.



    But seriously: How do you think even excrements could be used?
    For farming? Sure we'll need dung.

    Or what should we else do with it? I mean, we can't just deposit it somewhere on the Martian surface without burying it.

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    Super Moderator Explorer's Avatar
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    I remember reading that a contaminated person is relieved of some radiation through excretion. So a radiation sunscreen cream is a possibility.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Explorer View Post
    Excrement deposits could be used as an additional layer of radiation protection.

    P.S. I can't stop laughing at this thought and image.
    Nasty lol. My current research project's ultimate goal is to develop a method of aquaponics that closes the loop on both gas and excrement wastes. Waste water is the key to this system. Fish waste is used to fertilize plants that are then harvested for human consumption, along with the fish, and then the human wastes are collected and can either be composted by ecoplants (whose substrate bacteria breakdown harmful gases) and then those ecoplants are used to feed the fish. This creates as close to a closed loop as possible. Won't be able to test losses due to skin (dust) and sweat as of yet, but in late 2013 I am planning to have my pressurized test facility and attached greenhouse setup and ready to do some short and eventually long term tests using this proposed system. Nothing super high tech as I will be using grants and donations, but I believe the basic research can be achieved. Biosphere 2 failed because I believe it was too large of a scale, BIOS-3 on a much smaller scale worked quite well. I'm hoping that an all natural system along with mechanical back ups can make the system 100% functional.

    Also going to do some testing with genetically altered chlorella to provide additional oxygen which will be outgassed and stored for periods of time when the oxygen levels drop (if they do).

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    Super Moderator Maximal Entropy's Avatar
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    Here's an idea on recycling excrement that I've seen on some farms:
    Raw sewage goes into an incubator where the bacteria produce as much methane as possible.
    Once the methane production levels off, the incubator is heated to just above the boiling point of water.
    The products are separated and stored until needed: Methane can be burned for energy, pure water can be used for whatever we need it for, and the dry product is sterile and very fertile.

    Other things that can be recycled:
    Oxygen concentration can be maintained with the right ratio of plants to people.
    Dead plants can be used as fertilizer for living plants (so can almost all other biological waste).
    Worn cloth, if it is something organic like cotton, can be broken down by the right bacteria and be used as fertilizer. New clothing can be made from plant fibers (alternatively, they could grow cotton or a similar material).
    Metals, plastics, and tools made from metal or plastic should last for a long time if made well and taken care of, but when they eventually break, they can be melted down and reused (some plastics can't, but the metal can for sure).
    I have loved the stars too fondly to be frightened of the darkness.

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    Nice thread this is!

    Is there any possible option for a really small recycling device? Something that could be taken with just a Dragon capsule (SpaceX)?

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    Rather than purely using bacteria to break down organic wastes why not incorporate worm farms utilizing red wrigglers (Eisenia foetida). These worms are capable of processing their own weight in waste every day. I farm earthworms myself and know first hand just how useful and productive they are. The castings that they produce are worth their weight in gold in the horticulture industry. A top quality balanced liquid plant food can also be made from them. Earthworms would be perfect for both enriching the martian soil with organic matter, nutrients and beneficial bacteria and also for being an integral part of the overall strategy for processing and recycling the organic waste stream.
    I was actually going to create a thread asking whether the team had any ideas which species of animal and plant would be considered to be taken along to Mars with the astronauts. They'd presumably all have to have some valuable function/contribution with which they could serve the colony?

  9. #9
    I like what Chameleon Hunter has brought up, worm farms would be a huge contribution to the colony. I imagine that the colony would attempt to create some sort of Biosphere living habitat similar to the one that the university of arizona has. (http://www.b2science.org/) On a smaller scale most likely.

    Worms would be a huge contribution to this effort. Grey and Black water waste can be separated by solids and liquids for separate uses. I'm sure they will have some sort of water filtration system available to them from day one, the liquids can go through this and then the product can either be stored until use, distributed to small scale reservoir in the biosphere (Ponds), or both. The solids produced by this process can be used as a fuel source and/or fertilizer.

    The biosphere will of course, have some type of earth section in it, where plants grow in soil, the worms will incredibly important there to keep the soil organic and fertilized. My understanding of the martian 'soil' is that it already contains the nutrients that earth plants need except that it is too basic for plant growth, worms along with mechanical processing can help prepare the soil for natural plant growth.

    Underneath the soil in the biosphere they can produce some type of collection bin to keep all the resources injected into the ecosystem inside. Worms wont be able to escape, water will be collected, etc.

    Of course all of this would be many years after the colony becomes self sustainable, but I cannot wait to see a system like this come to fruition.

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    they can use remains of food as fertilizer on the greenhouse.

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