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Recycling of inorganic nutrients for hydroponic crop production following incineration of inedible biomass

Advances in Space Research
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/s0273-1177(97)00937-x
  • Integration Of Bioregenerative And Physical/Chemical Processes For Space Life Support Systems
  • Chemistry


Abstract The goal of resource recovery in a regenerative life support system is maintenance of product quality to insure support of reliable and predictable levels of life support function performance by the crop plant component. Further, these systems must be maintained over extended periods of time, requiring maintenance of nutrient solutions to avoid toxicity and deficiencies. The focus of this study was to determine the suitability of the ash product following incineration of inedible biomass as a source of inorganic nutrients for hydroponic crop production. Inedible wheat biomass was incinerated and ash quality characterized. The incinerator ash was dissolved in adequate nitric acid to establish a consistent nitrogen concentration is all nutrient solution treatments. Four experimental nutrient treatments were included: control, ash only, ash supplemented to match the control treatment, and ash only quality formulated with reagent grade chemicals. When nutrient solutions were formulated using only ash following incineration of inedible biomass, a balance in solution is established representing elemental retention following incineration and nutrient proportions present in the original biomass. The resulting solution is not identical to the control. This imbalance resulted in a suppression of crop growth. When the ash is supplemented with reagent grade chemicals to establish the same balance as in the control-growth is identical to the control. The ash appears to carry no phytotoxic materials. Growth in solution formulated with reagent grade chemicals but matching the quality of the ash only treatment resulted in similar growth to that of the ash only treatment. The ash product resulting from incineration of inedible biomass appears to be a suitable form for recycle of inorganic nutrients to crop production.

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