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Adv Space Res. 1992;12(5):151-6.

Biosphere 2 Test Module: a ground-based sunlight-driven prototype of a closed ecological life support system.

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Institute of Ecotechnics, London, U.K.


Constructed in 1986, the Biosphere 2 Test Module has been used since the end of that year for closed ecological systems experiments. It is the largest closed ecological facility ever built, with a sealed variable volume of some 480 cubic meters. It is built with a skin of steel spaceframes with double-laminated glass panels admitting about 65 percent Photosynthetically Active Radiation (PAR). The floor is of welded steel and there is an underground atmospheric connection via an air duct to a variable volume chamber ("lung") permitting expansion and contraction of the Test Module's air volume caused by changes in temperature and barometric pressure, which causes a slight positive pressure from inside the closed system to the outside thereby insuring that the very small leakage rate is outward. Several series of closed ecological system investigations have been carried out in this facility. One series of experiments investigated the dynamics of higher plants and associated soils with the atmosphere under varying light and temperature conditions. Another series of experiments included one human in the closed system for three, five and twenty-one days. During these experiments the Test Module had subsystems which completely recycled its water and atmosphere; all the human dietary needs were produced within the facility, and all wastes were recycled using a marsh plant/microbe system. Other experiments have examined the capability of individual component systems used, such as the soil bed reactors, to eliminate experimentally introduced trace gases. Analytic systems developed for these experiments include continuous monitors of eleven atmospheric gases in addition to the complete gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GCMS) examinations of potable, waste system and irrigation water quality.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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