Controlled (or Closed) Ecological Life Support Systems or CELSS was first pioneered by the Soviet Union during the 1950s–60s. Originated by Konstantin Tsiolkovsky and furthered by V.I. Vernadsky, the first forays into this science were the use of closed, unmanned ecosystems, expanding into the research facility known as the BIOS-3 in 1965. Below is a picture of a CELSS system. To the left is the freezer for chilling the system down. Under the aluminum box is the compressor and vacuum pumps with all controllers and drivers. Inside the aluminum box is a 40 gallon fish tank surrounded by a plywood box insulated with 4 inches of air and 2 inches of foam and aluminum foil. The cooled air from the freezer circulates in the 4 inch gap between the glass tank and plywood.
The top comes off and exposes the only entrance and exit in/out of the system. The two large white squares are LED lights and a thermo-electric device used to trigger dew points for condensing water out of the air.
To the right is the Thermo-electric device. All electrical connections are done through SS nuts and SS bolts gooped with silicon dap.
The plastic cover surrounded by plywood is in a hermetically sealed 40 gallon fish tank. The seal is good up to 70 KPa. This means the air pressure is controlled inside the tank using vacuum and compressor pump. Cooling is done through a freezer unit next to the CELSS. Air is forced through some plumbing and bathes the 40 gallon fish tank in chilled air. The system is warmed by LED lights. There is enough energy from the LED lights to heat the whole system. Fans are installed around the LED lights to cool the whole system. HID lights are not use because they put out way too much heat. The main problem with any CELSS system is not heating, but cooling.
It’s difficult to bring enough food along on long space trips like Mars. And it is difficult to ship food constantly to a moon base. One solution is to have a closed ecological life support system where all waste, air and food production is self-contained. A system like this needs to accomplish the following:
Off gases need to be transformed into something that can be consumed by something else. For an example, carbon dioxide is produced by plants to grow; plants absorb carbon dioxide to use as sugars for growing. Plants off-gas oxygen. There are a number of other cycles involving gases.
All by-products of animals and non-plant need to be transformed to be consumed by something else. Hopefully, these cycles are self-contained to be powered by sunlight, heat and/or symbiotic with another self-contained life cycle.
Product enough food for animals and insects to survive with external interaction.
The project’s approach to CELSS is to solve the problem(s) of ecological cycles in waters, gases, soils, canopies and duffs in a closed environment. There appears to be an unnecessary concern for closing the control loop of an ecological system(s). A control loop is defined as some device watching over a system and making adjustments to keep the cycle going. If the control loops for a closed system needs to be modeled, it is best to match up the natural loops (Natural loops are devices that watch over a system and make necessary changes to keep the natural cycle going) with the firmware/control software loops. All of suggested cycles exist today in nature. We are trying to make a device that will give the inputs to an ecosystem for it to thrive.
Energy needs to continually enter into an ecological system. This energy is in the form of light, heat and solar radiation from the sun. This is the only inputs the CELSS can have if it is to survive on another planet or moon. There is one feature that is rarely thought of in systems like this. It is called entropy (a system that falls apart into disorder and random systems). This is simple to deal with. Mother Nature has taken care of this for us. The energy from the sun has given our system on Earth the means to keep organized systems going. Entropy is the very device that contains randomness to set the stage for ecological cycles and systems to become into being. CELSS needs to be facilitated by PID control loops that are convoluted with in natural ecological cycles. Below shows a simple CELSS system energy flow:
Energy and PID control balancing (minimal to no interference from the outside) ——–> [ Entropy <==> Ecosystem Loops/Cycles] ——–> Balanced System
Entropy and Ecosystem Loops/Cycles balance each other or are interchangeable. The function of the PID loop(s) (Proportional Integral and Differential, these are parameters used to help keep a system working) is to make sure the conditions are right for this to process to occur. The functional eco-system do not come from anywhere, the conditions are right and they become into being. The correct environmental conditions need to exist/change for ecological processes to occur and/or change.
Below is a picture of the top of the CELSS. It shows the Thermo-electric DP triggering device and wires coming in and out of the air tight container. Wing nuts clamp down the top hatch to the system when it is in operation. For smaller tests like humidity control and CO2 testing, it is only necessary to just prevent moisture form escaping.
I: Collect natural climate data for at least two places. (Completed)
II: Build an open eco-system where there are only inputs of light and heat. (Completed)
III: Build a closed system where the climate is imitated and different profiles can be programmed in. This is only for a half tank of water and air. (Completed August 8, 2012)
IV: Run a closed system with water, air, light fish, microbiology and plants (Testing).
V: Build a closed system water table in the fish tank. Components in the tank are soil, water, air, light, fish, microbiology and plants.
VI: Use phase V project and add predator-prey cycles with aphids and ladybugs. I’m anticipating a population/timing problem(s).
VII: To be determined after completing Phase I through VI. The project will be too large for me to handle by myself. The whole project will need to be scaled to fit larger cycles.
VIII: The bio-ecosystem needs gravity. If this project is to be used in space, gravity will have to be present. The concept of a free spinning wheel does not work in space. The movie, “2001: A space odyssey” has a space station with a spinning wheel. When people or things move around in it, the space station will start to spin faster or slower; wobble and thwart around. A momentum and inertia control system needs to be developed for this system to work.