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SELECTBIO Conferences The Space Summit 2021


Microfluidic Systems for Asteroid Minerals Processing and Nanoformulation of Fortified Designer Beverages for Astronauts

Volker Hessel, Professor, The University of Adelaide

Space laboratories are the ultimate disruptive barrier and the modern playground for out-of-box thinking. Space manufacturing and resource utilization is the key to human space exploration. Flow chemistry is the ideal technology for chemical manufacturing in space – it operates (even on Earth) at ‘zero-gravity’, is suited for vacuum operation, while being light-weight and ready for remote control

Two advanced microfluidic reactors - a coiled-flow inverter (CFI) and an industrial re-entrance flow reactor from Corning® were operated at high (Asteroid) metal concentrations and high nickel to cobalt ratios (3:0.3 mol/l Ni:Co). Using Cyanex 272 as a selective extractant for cobalt, extraction efficiencies of 60% with high separation factors (>1000) were reached in just one extraction stage. The CFI showed high extraction efficiency for a residence time of 60 s. The Corning® reactor performs better at higher flow rates and thus can leverage higher productivity. Finally, the meteorite Campo del Cielo, the third-largest one which ever hit Earth, was leached and extracted at maximal 87% efficiency.

We aim to develop a space beverage system that allows astronauts to adjust the beverage’s taste and nutritional value to individual likes and needs, utilizing beverage nanoemulsions to incorporate hydrophilic (micro-)nutrients and flavour components. Thereby, we can address space-specific health threats such as microgravity-related bone loss with an increased intake of omega-3 fatty acids. By using literature reported solvent/surfactanant compositions, “spontaneous emulsification” nanoemulsions (d32 ˜ 100 nm) were reliably obtained. Compared to a conventional burette setup, a microfluidic device was able to form emulsions considerably faster (time reduction by a factor of 5) and potentially more efficiently, i.e. forming emulsions with smaller droplet sizes at certain surfactant concentrations.

Add to Calendar ▼2021-09-30 00:00:002021-10-01 00:00:00Europe/LondonThe Space Summit 2021The Space Summit 2021 in