Characterization of microbial and chemical composition of shuttle wet waste with permanent gas and volatile organic compound analyses
Peterson, B. V., et al. (2004). "Characterization of microbial and chemical composition of shuttle wet waste with permanent gas and volatile organic compound analyses." Advances in Space Research 34 7: 1470-1476
Solid-waste treatment in space for Advanced Life Support, ALS, applications requires that the material can be safely processed and stored in a confined environment. Many solid-wastes are not stable because they are wet (40–90% moisture) and contain levels of soluble organic compounds that can contribute to the growth of undesirable microorganisms with concomitant production of noxious odors. In the absence of integrated Advanced Life Support systems on orbit, permanent gas, trace volatile organic and microbiological analyses were performed on crew refuse returned from the volume F “wet” trash of three consecutive Shuttle missions (STS-105, 109, and 110). These analyses were designed to characterize the short-term biological stability of the material and assess potential crew risks resulting from microbial decay processes during storage. Waste samples were collected post-orbiter landing and sorted into packaging material, food waste, toilet waste, and bulk liquid fractions deposited during flight in the volume F container. Aerobic and anaerobic microbial loads were determined in each fraction by cultivation on R2A and by acridine orange direct count (AODC). Dry and ash weights were performed to determine both water and organic content of the materials. Experiments to determine the aerobic and anaerobic biostability of refuse stored for varying periods of time were performed by on-line monitoring of CO2 and laboratory analysis for production of hydrogen sulfide and methane. Volatile organic compounds and permanent gases were analyzed using EPA Method TO15 by USEPA et al. [EPA Method TO15, The Determination of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) in Ambient Air using SUMMA, Passivated Canister Sampling and Gas Chromatographic Analysis, 1999] with gas chromatography/mass spectrometry and by gas chromatography with selective detectors. These baseline measures of waste stream content, labile organics, and microbial load in the volume F Shuttle trash provide data for waste subsystem analysis and atmospheric management within the ALS Project.