Manmade closed ecological systems

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Systems that sit within each other, like the brain or heart in a human body, are smaller systems within larger systems and can be called nested systems. Regarding food production there has been some research, but there is a failure to connect sophisticated systems and closed loop processes with the potential necessary at local scales within a city context. Existing models that aim for a localisation of food production and distribution can often fail to ensure connectivity between systems.

For instance, the Kindling Trust has a farm in a rural location, which distributes its produce in a suburban shop where there is particular demand. When the distribution system is separated from the production system there is no opportunity for the waste from one system to be fed back in to close the loop.

Laboratory Ecospheres vs. Manmade Biospheres

This is just one example, but many of the existing initiatives fail to recognise the importance of having a closed loop system. When a network of technologies is created, the relationship between the networks may eradicate the production of waste — for instance the waste from one technology becomes a nutrient that supports the connecting network. This idea of relationships between technologies potentially reduces carbon emissions as it becomes intrinsic to the functioning of the whole system and not an externality of one particular system or network.

The principle of a closed loop system is, therefore, useful for food production and distribution. It means that the system is connected, which means it is more circular and efficient and based on more natural systems. This means that there is less waste in the system and therefore provides principles that can guide ideal food production when developing local alternatives to the industrialised agricultural model.

There have been several innovations in developing closed loop systems that can be drawn upon. They integrate natural design principles with human needs and ecological design. For local alternatives to be able to contribute towards systemic change, it is important to be able to consider the different ways in which this could be implemented within a city context, and in particular in areas of urban deprivation where the need is most acute. A life support system that approaches complete internal sustainability and which is biologically based is termed a closed ecological system.

This means that it is essentially energetically open and materially closed, and recycles its major elements and nutrients. So, although energy may enter and leave the system, everything else remains within it by being recycled. Some examples of closed ecological systems are outlined below.

Early laboratory experiments with biological regenerative systems were based on monocultures of unicellular organisms.

Making a Bottle Terrarium + Closed Terrarium Basics

They were not successful in that the systems used did not attain a stable, steady state and could not provide a significant portion of the human diet. They did, however, provide significant new knowledge that will be drawn upon throughout this programme of investigation in developing a whole system approach to urban farming Olson et al, There were three main aspects of this programme. The Johnson Space Center focused on food processing and human diets in space, and the Ames Research Center was connected with basic research in system controls. Systems such as these must be energetically open as entropy see Glossary is always increasing.


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So light needed for photosynthesis comes from outside of the system, and excess heat from the system needs to be removed to external heat sinks. Having said this, any energy that can be produced from within the system will reduce the need for energy to be supplied from external sources. CELSS and other closed ecological systems contain essentially only one type of ecosystem — an agricultural one — for human life support. Biospheric systems are essentially materially closed, and energetically open, like a closed ecological life support system. However, their internal complexity provides additional buffering capacity for air and water regeneration, and increases the long-term prospects of a system resistant to catastrophic decline.

Morowitz et al argue that closure is a concept that is frequently used in the physical sciences, yet receives little attention in ecology, so there is plenty of scope for development here.

Closed ecological system - Alchetron, the free social encyclopedia

Here the focus is on Biosphere 2. Within it, there was ocean with coral reef, mangrove wetlands, tropical rainforest, savannah grassland, and fog desert in an area of 3.


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  • The groundbreaking research ran for two years from 26th September to 26 th September It was situated in Arizona, with eight people being sealed into the glass environment with over species. The people who lived in the system for the two years were called biospherains. They attempted to create the second closed system known to man, the first being the Biosphere itself. The Biosphere2 project was materially closed, while being energetically open like a closed ecological life support system.

    The internal complexity, however, provided additional buffering capacity for air and water regeneration. This man-made closed system was not just biological it was also highly technological. A super-computer monitored everything that the system would do, ensuring that the biology was safe: the technosphere supported the biosphere.

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    The fishes were also filmed to monitor their development and movement. An identical experiment was carried out as ground control. A data downlink provided the measured temperature values of the space experiment every day to readjust the temperature of the ground reference in order to eliminate the influence of the different temperature on the velocity of the development of the fishes.

    The system worked very well and confirmed the design in principle. The water cycle in closed ecological systems : perspectives from the Biosphere 2 and Laboratory Biosphere systems. Engineering Biosphere 2, the first multi-biome closed ecological system , total footprint of the airtight area is 12, m2 with a combined volume of , m3 with a total water capacity of some 6 x liters of water presented a complex challenge because it included human inhabitants, their agricultural and technical systems , as well as a range of analogue ecosystems ranging from rainforest to desert, freshwater ecologies to mini-ocean coral reef ecosystems.

    By contrast, the Laboratory Biosphere - a small 40m3 volume soil-based plant growth facility with a footprint of 15m3 - is a very simplified system , but with some similar issues such as salinity management and the provision of water quality sufficient for plant growth. In Biosphere 2, water needs included supplying potable water for people and domestic animals, irrigation water for a wide variety of food crops, and recycling and recovering soil nutrients from wastewater.

    Other reservoirs were far smaller - humidity in the atmosphere 2 x liters , streams in the rainforest and savannah, and seasonal pools in the desert were orders of magnitude smaller 8 x liters. Key technologies included condensation from humidity in the airhandlers and from the glass. Studies with algal cultures which relate to closed ecological life support systems CELSS are discussed. A description of a constant cell density apparatus for continuous culture of algae is included. Excretion of algal by-products, and nitrogen utilization and excretion are discussed.

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    The legacy of biosphere 2 for the study of biospherics and closed ecological systems. The unprecedented challenges of creating Biosphere 2, the world's first laboratory for biospherics, the study of global ecology and long-term closed ecological system dynamics, led to breakthrough developments in many fields, and a deeper understanding of the opportunities and difficulties of material closure.

    This paper will review accomplishments and challenges, citing some of the key research findings and publications that have resulted from the experiments in Biosphere 2. This degree of closure permitted detailed tracking of carbon dioxide, oxygen, and trice gases such as nitrous oxide and ethylene over the seasonal variability of two years. Full closure also necessitated developing new approaches and technologies for complete air, water, and wastewater recycle and reuse within the facility.

    The development of a soil-based highly productive agricultural system was a first in closed ecological systems , and much was learned about managing a wide variety of crops using non-chemical means of pest and disease control. Closed ecological systems have different temporal biogeochemical cycling and ranges of atmospheric components because of their smaller reservoirs of air, water and soil, and higher concentration of biomass, and Biosphere 2 provided detailed examination and modeling of these accelerated cycles over a period of closure which measured in years.

    Medical research inside Biosphere 2 included the effects on humans of lowered oxygen: the discovery that human productivity can be maintained with good health with lowered atmospheric oxygen levels could lead to major economies on the design of space stations and. The unprecedented challenges of creating Biosphere 2, the world's first laboratory for biospherics, the study of global ecology and long-term closed ecological system dynamics led to breakthrough developments in many fields, and a deeper understanding of the opportunities and difficulties of material closure.

    This paper will review these accomplishments and challenges, citing some of the key research accomplishments and publications which have resulted from the experiments in Biosphere 2. This degree of closure permitted detailed tracking of carbon dioxide, oxygen, and trace gases such as nitrous oxide and ethylene over the seasonal variability of two years. Closed ecological systems have different temporal b ogeochemical cycling and ranges ofi atmospheric components because of their smaller reservoirs of air, water and soil, and higher concentration of biomass, and Biosphere 2 provided detailed examination and modeling of these accelerated cycles over a period of closure which measured in years.

    The improved. A nutritionally adequate and acceptable diet was evaluated and developed. A design for a multipurpose food plant is discussed. The types and amounts of foods needed to be regenerated in a partially closed ecological life support system PCELSS were proposed. Equipment specifications, simplification of the proposed processes, and food waste treatment were analyzed. Studies were conducted to scope the principal areas of technology that can contribute to the development of closed-ecology life support systems CELSS. Such systems may be required for future space activities, such as space stations, manufacturing facilities, or colonies.