TITLE: Synthetic Biological Membrane
WRITTEN BY: Michael Flynn, David Loftus, Richard Wisnewski, Jeffery Lee, Jaione Romero Mangado, Jurek Parodi, Ofir Stefanson, Rocco Mancinelli, Brian Kawashima, Michael Dougherty, Adrian Brozell, Kevan Rosenberg, Serina Treu, Kassidy Peirce, Tess Rogers, Kristen McLean
PRESENTED AT: 46th International Conference on Environmental Systems
10-14 July 2016, Vienna, Austria
ABSTRACT: For long duration human space flight missions, reliability is a critical factor. It impacts both safety and cost. This is particularly true for spacecraft life support systems. This paper describes the development of a biomimetic technology called the Synthetic Biological Membrane (SBM). The SBM improves the reliability of separation membranes by mimicking the regenerative function of biological membranes. It uses genetically engineered organisms to regenerate a protective fatty acid layer on the surface of a lipid membrane, engineered to provide a sacrificial protective surface on the feed side of the membrane. This surface protects the membrane from mineral scale, organic fouling, and oxidative damage. The SBM is configured for use in a forward osmosis (FO) water purification system. In this configuration the engineered organisms are grown in the recirculating osmotic agent and the fatty acids they produce diffuse across the lipid forward osmosis membrane into the feed.