Biological filter capable of simultaneous nitrification and denitrification for Aquatic Habitat in International Space Station
Life Sciences in Space Research
The biological filter capable of simultaneous nitrification and denitrification was constructed for aquatic animal experiments in the International Space Station (ISS). The biological filter will be used to remove harmful ammonia excreted from aquatic animals in a closed water circulation system (Aquatic Habitat). The biological filter is a cylindrical tank packed with porous glass beads for nitrification and dual plastic bags for denitrification. The porous beads are supporting media for
... omonas europaea and Nitrobacter winogradskyi. The N. europaea cells and N. winogradskyi cells on the porous beads, oxidize the excreted ammonia to nitrate via nitrite. On the other hand, the dual bag is composed of an outer non-woven fabric bag and an inner non-porous polyethylene film bag. The outer bag is supporting media for Paracoccus pantotrophus. The inner bag, in which 99.5% ethanol is packed, releases the ethanol slowly, since ethanol can permeate through the non-porous polyethylene film. The P. pantotrophus cells on the outer bag reduce the produced nitrate to nitrogen gas by using the released ethanol as an electron donor for denitrification. The biological filter constructed in this study consequently removed the ammonia without accumulating nitrate. Most of the excess ethanol was consumed and did not affect the nitrification activity of the N. europaea cells and N. winogradskyi cells severely. In accordance with the aquatic animal experiments in the ISS, small freshwater fish had been bred in the closed water circulation system equipped with the biological filter for 90 days. Ammonia concentration daily excreted from fish is assumed to be 1.7 mg-N/L in the recirculation water. Under such conditions, the harmful ammonia and nitrite concentrations were kept below 0.1 mg-N/L in the recirculation water. Nitrate and total organic carbon concentrations in the recirculation water were kept below 5 mg-N/L and 3 mg-C/L, respectively. All breeding fish were alive and ate the feed well. The results show that the nitrification and denitrification abilities of the biological filter sufficed to keep water quality for aquatic animal experiments in the ISS. This simple and effective system is certainly applicable to aquarium systems and aquaculture systems.