Microalgae-based Hybrid Life Support System from Simulations to Flight Experiment



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50th International Conference on Environmental Systems


The Life Support System (LSS) technologies currently used on the International Space Station (ISS) are based on physico-chemical principles, and thus, not able to produce food. Future space missions, such as a Moon or a Mars base, will require food production, to further close the LSS and reduce resupply required from Earth. Current technologies can be complemented for future space missions with biological components, forming a Hybrid LSS. A potential biological component is a microalgae based photobioreactor. The development of such technology requires both biology and engineering research. At the Institute of Space Systems (IRS) � University of Stuttgart, research on microalgae has been carried out for over a decade, starting from simulations up to a flight experiment on the ISS. Biological research includes the selection of the algae species, the cultivation techniques, the long-term stability and the use of the microalgae as food source, among others. From the engineering point of view, the main element on the system is the reactor chamber. Two microgravity reactors have been tested in a parabolic flight campaign and on the ISS experiment, and several designs have been investigated for Moon/Mars gravity conditions. Besides the reactor, other subsystems need to be developed and optimized: lighting, air management, harvesting unit and the sensors/actuators required for system automatization. This paper summarizes the research at IRS both on the biological and engineer aspects, presents its main results and conclusions and discusses open challenges on microalgae-based systems.


Gisela Detrell, Institute of Space Systems - University of Stuttgart
ICES500: Life Science/Life Support Research Technologies
The 50th International Conference on Environmental Systems was held virtually on 12 July 2021 through 14 July 2021.


Life Support Systems, Microalgae, Photobioreactor, Biological and engineering research