Adapting the ring-sheared drop (RSD) technology as a bioreactor

PI: Amir Hirsa, Richard Bonocora (Co-I), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

The ring-sheared drop (RSD) project was inspired by the possibility of microgravity experiments with centimeter-scale (and larger) liquid systems without a container, where surface tension provides containment of the liquid, and mixing in the bulk is conveyed by the surface shear viscosity. The RSD technology was originally developed to study the formation of amyloid fibrils, which play a central role in many neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimers disease and Parkinsons. The RSD module for the amyloidogenesis studies is under construction in Huntsville AL, for deployment aboard the ISS in 2019 (previous suborbital flight demonstrations here). The present flight demonstration is for adapting the RSD technology as a space-based bioreactor.

Technology Areas (?)
  • TA06 Human Health, Life Support and Habitation Systems
Problem Statement

Many years of effort and investments by NASA and ESA have yet to produce a bioreactor for space that can perform as well as Earth-based bioreactors. This is primarily due to the fact that gas exchange on Earth is readily achieved by agitation, whereas free-surface flows are complicated in microgravity and traditionally avoided. In previous bioreactors for space, gas exchange is done via membranes. However, membranes foul easily and are far less efficient than free surfaces. The RSD technology offers several fundamental advantages over previous bioreactor designs for space: i) readily scalable, ii) no barriers to gas exchange, iii) no barriers to light transmission, iv) energy efficient mixing, and v) low reactor weight. All of these are a direct consequence of the fact that the RSD is essentially a sphere of liquid where containment is achieved by the action of surface tension, and motion is transmitted by the action of surface shear viscosity.

Technology Details

  • Selection Date
    REDDI-F1-18 (Aug 2018)
  • Program Status
  • Current TRL (?)
    Successful FOP Flights
  • 0 Parabolic

Development Team

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