Behaviour and effects of microcompounds in regenerative ecosystems

European Call(s)

SC2 ‐ call topic SFS33: Integrated approaches to food safety controls across the agri‐food chain

LEIT‐NMBP call topic BIOTEC‐04: New biotechnologies for environmental remediation

Potential links also to

SC2 – call topic SFS24: Bioeconomy cities: integrated system innovation in valorizing urbanbiowaste

SC2 – call topic RUR08: Closing nutrient cycles

Name of the organisation

European Space Agency

Description of the organisation

The European Space Agency (ESA) is an international organisation with 22 Member States. ESA isEurope’s gateway to space. Its mission is to shape the development of Europe’s space capabilityand ensure that investment in space continues to deliver benefits to the citizens of Europe and theworld. ESA's programmes are designed to find out more about Earth, its immediate spaceenvironment, our Solar System and the Universe, as well as to develop satellite‐based technologiesand services, and to promote European industries.One of the programmes is MELiSSA, a closed loop ecosystem concept based on the principle of anterrestrial ecosystem where waste products are processed using the metabolism of microorganisms,plants and algae. In essence, MELiSSA is an assembly of processes (including ,fermentation, filtration, wet oxidation, green‐houses, etc.) aiming at a total conversion of organicwastes and CO2 to oxygen, water and food.

Main areas of expertise

A consortium of Swiss and Belgian partners is currently mandated by the European Space Agencyto explore the synergies and common interests of space and terrestrial research regardingmicropollutants and trace elements in water loop closure, organic waste recycling, decentralisedtreatment concepts and food production. The consortium aims to bring together a core group ofstakeholders interested in joining forces to improve the knowledge base on the behavior andeffects of micropollutants and trace elements in closed ecosystems by
‐ Developing and implementing sound analytical, monitoring and water treatment tools
‐ Understanding and predicting removal and/or persistence of organic micropollutants
‐ Understanding the fate and effects of micropollutants and trace elements in all relevantreservoirs of the environment and along the food production and preparation chain
‐ Understanding the risks related to the presence of micropollutants/trace elements and beingable to develop (counter)measures.

Contact Person

Brigitte Lamaze

Looking for: Partner(s) - Coordinator

Companies involved in
‐ Product development e.g. sampling devices, bioassays, sensors, filtration units & devices,software for process control
‐ Modeling, monitoring and analysis
‐ Technology development and demonstration in the area of separation technology, resourcerecovery, single cell protein production, hydroponics for food productionParties interested in long‐term collaboration in the domain of regenerative ecosystems for wastevalorisation and food production


All European Countries (no preference).

Main Objectives:

Many of the issues identified for micropollutants in the terrestrial environment (analytics,monitoring, impact assessment, removal, etc.), also apply to the regenerative life support conceptsstudied in the context of long‐haul space missions. The Micro‐Ecological Life Support SystemAlternative (MELiSSA) is for instance a compartmentalized ecological system that combines organicwaste biotransformation and food production. Similar to natural ecosystems and closed loopsystems, insights into the behavior and effects of organic micropollutants/trace elements inMELiSSA still need to be investigated. Its short cycle times and small buffer volumes make it aninteresting platform though to study the behaviour and the (eco)toxicological effects ofmicropollutants, the behaviour and benefits of trace elements on micro‐organisms, plants and food under fast dynamics.

Shortlisted research topics are:
1. Investigation of behaviour of microcompounds in food production using water recoverednutrients
2. Technology development for monitoring of microcompounds
3. Investigation of behaviour of hormones & Endocrine Disrupting Compounds (EDCs) and PPCPs
4. Membrane technology and multibarrier approaches for recycling, removal, retention and/ordegradation of microcompounds
5. Technology development for nutrient separation/recovery in waste water reuse/recyclingThese can be finetuned through interaction with potential project partners and can be subject ofvarious parallel proposals or initiatives.


‐ Relevance of common research topics for both the terrestrial and the space environment
‐ Translation of results from short‐cycle closed loop ecosystem to large‐scale ecosystems andclosed loop systems
‐ Level of involvement of companies, particularly in core project activities

Previous EU experience:

In the area of wastewater treatment or the study of micropollutants no previous EU‐projects haverun with involvement of ESA. However, MELiSSA partner VITO has been involved in several FP5‐FP6‐FP7 projects and is involved in H2020 projects related to water treatment and reuse,ecotoxicity, micropollutants.