The Bio Reaction
Scaling up Oxygen Generation
We repeated the above experiment at larger scale with the following modifications. 50 mL cultures were grown overnight in 200mL Erlenmeyer flasks using the same conditions described above. In place of Cld(SP+) we used a culture of E. coli that contained no plasmid as a negative control. The next day stir bars were added to each flask and the cultures were stirred at moderate speed. Solid chlorite was added to each flask to a final concentration of 0.5M. A condom was placed over each flask to collect the generated O2 . Condoms were selected because of their thin, flexible nature that when filled with O2 would produce an approximate cylinder whose volume could be calculated from it diameter and length. The results are presented in the video in the video above.
Conceptual Bioreactor Sketch
- Martian soil and water are mixed together to create a sludge in this first module.
- The Martian soil solution is filtered through to the next stage where the perchlorate ions are absorbed by rods filled with activated charcoal.
- The activated charcoal rods are shunted into a module with boiling water. Boiling the water releases the perchlorate ions creating a solution of perchlorate ions. The solution is also diluted if necessary at this stage if the perchlorate concentration is too high, to ensure the survival of the E. Coli in the next stage.
- The perchlorate solution is precipitated into a chamber layered with the genetically modified E. Coli where the perchlorate is converted into oxygen and chloride ions. Biomass from the mission is used to feed the E. Coli, and the waste can be reused as fertilizer for possible agriculture operations. The oxygen gas and chloride is separated by a membrane after exiting the chamber.