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Advanced Life Systems for Extreme Environments: An Arctic ApplicationThe problems of obtaining adequate pure drinking water and disposing of liquid and solid waste in the U.S. Arctic, a region where virtually all water is frozen solid for much of the year, has led to unsanitary solutions (U.S. Arctic Research Commission). These solutions are also damaging to the environment. Sanitation and a safe water supply are particularly problems in rural villages. About one-fourth of Alaska's 86.000 Native residents live in these communities. They are without running water and use plastic buckets for toilets. The outbreak of diseases is believed to be partially attributable to exposure to human waste. Villages with the most frequent outbreaks of disease are those in which running water is difficult to obtain (Office of Technology Assessment, 1994). Waste is emptied into open lagoons, rivers, or onto the sea coast. It does not degrade rapidly and in addition to affecting human health, can be harmful to the fragile ecology of the Arctic and the indigenous wildlife and fish populations. Advanced Life Systems for Extreme Environments (ALSEE) provides a solution to sanitation and safe water problems. The system uses an advanced integrated technology developed for Antarctic and space applications. ALSEE uses the systems approach to address more than waste and water problems. By incorporating hydroponic horticulture and aquaculture into the waste treatment system, ALSEE addresses the quality and quantity of fresh foods available to Arctic residents. A temperate climate is required for year-round plant growth. ALSEE facilities can be designed to include a climate controlled area within the structure. This type of environment is a change from the long periods of darkness and cold found in the Arctic and can help alleviate stress so often associated with these extremes. While the overall concept of ALSEE projects is advanced, system facilities can be operated by village residents with appropriate training. ALSEE provides continuing training and education as a part of the project. Not only is this desirable but necessary. There is ample evidence in "gravoyard" throughout rural Alaska of technologies which failed not because they were not applic4tble, but because they were not integrated and could not be operated or repaired by village residents. Waste streams in villages will vary depending on the human diet and the non-food waste stream. ALSEE units can be adapted to different village situations once the content of the waste stream is known. Units located in population hubs can serve as research, education. and demonstration centers. Appropriate modifications can be determined at these centers to transfer technology to more remote locations where waste stream conditions may differ.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Lewis, Carol E.
(Alaska Univ. Fairbanks, AK United States)
Stanford, Kerry L.
(Alaska Univ. Fairbanks, AK United States)
Bubenheim, David L.
(NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA United States)
Covington, Alan
Date Acquired
August 20, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1995
Subject Category
Man/System Technology And Life Support
Meeting Information
2nd Circumpolar Agricultural Conference(Tromso)
Funding Number(s)
PROJECT: RTOP 196-88-01
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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