PBR@LSR: the Algae-based Photobioreactor Experiment at the ISS – Configuration and Operations
The experiment Photobioreactor at the Life Support Rack (PBR@LSR) is ready to be launched to the International Space Station (ISS) in early 2019. The experiment and development of the PBR was initiated in 2014 by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the Institute of Space Systems (IRS) of the University of Stuttgart with Airbus Defence and Space as prime for the flight hardware. The PBR objective is to demonstrate for the first time the technology and performance of a hybrid life support system (combining physico-chemical and biotechnological components) in space and to prove the feasibility of xenic long-term cultivation of microalgae (Chlorella vulgaris) for up to 180 days under space conditions. The hybrid approach will be achieved with the connection of the PBR to the European Life Support Rack (LSR, formerly known as ACLS), which uses physico-chemical technologies to collect and process the carbon dioxide produced by the astronauts into oxygen. The PBR, as biotechnological component, will use a surplus of the highly concentrated CO2 of the LSR to produce oxygen and potentially edible biomass. The experiment consists of two Mid-Deck Lockers (MDLs), the connection to the LSR and the liquid exchange equipment. The MDLs contain the algae-suspension-loop, lighting, gas handling system, thermal control and sensors. The liquid exchange equipment includes the Liquid Exchange Device, the dedicated syringes, and the sample return bags, which will allow the safe return of algae cell material for wide physiological and genetical analyses on ground. Once installed, the experiment works mostly autonomously. The only manual action, requiring astronaut support, is the liquid exchange, which is planned to take place every two weeks, to ensure the algae obtain the necessary nutrients for the 180 days and to harvest the produced biomass. This paper presents the final configuration of the flight experiment and the operations planed.
Harald Helisch, Institute of Space Systems (IRS), University of Stuttgart, Germany
Jochen Keppler, University of Stuttgart, Germany
Johannes Martin, Institute of Space Systems (IRS), University of Stuttgart, Germany
Oliver Angerer, German Aerospace Center (DLR), Germany
Astrid Adrian, Airbus Defence and Space, Germany
Reinhold Ewald, Institute of Space Systems (IRS), University of Stuttgart, Germany
Stefanos Fasoulas, Institute of Space Systems (IRS), University of Stuttgart, Germany
ICES204: Bioregenerative Life Support
The 49th International Conference on Environmental Systems was held in Boston, Massachusetts, USA on 07 July 2019 through 11 July 2019.