The final configuration of the algae-based ISS experiment PBR@LSR


The spaceflight experiment PBR@LSR (Photobioreactor at the Life Support Rack) shall demonstrate the technology and performance of a hybrid life support system under real space conditions during an operation of half a year. To be launched to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2018, PBR@LSR combines a microalgae photobioreactor (PBR) and the carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrator of ESA’s Life Support Rack (LSR), also known as the European ACLS. Accommodated in the Destiny module, LSR will absorb and concentrate CO2 out of the cabin atmosphere. A dedicated interface allows the utilization of highly concentrated surplus CO2 for cultivation of microalgae in the PBR. The microalgae species Chlorella vulgaris uses CO2 to conduct photosynthesis. Biomass is produced and oxygen (O2 ) is released. Besides this technical approach of a hybrid life support system, PBR@LSR also pursues scientific goals: stability and performance of a non-axenic long-term cultivation in the µg-adapted PBR as well as on-ground analyses of returned microalgae samples. This paper highlights different subsystems of the spaceflight experiment PBR@LSR in the final configuration, especially the algae suspension loop, lighting, gas handling, humidity control, liquid exchange. Within the different subsystems, the selection of critical components is explained. The overall system design is verified with experimental data.


Jochen Keppler, University of Stuttgart
Stefan Belz, University of Stuttgart
Gisela Detrell, University of Stuttgart
Harald Helisch, University of Stuttgart
Johannes Martin, University of Stuttgart
Norbert Henn, University of Stuttgart
Stefanos Fasoulas, University of Stuttgart
Reinhold Ewald, University of Stuttgart
Oliver Angerer, German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Heinz Hartstein, Airbus Defence and Space
ICES204: Bioregenerative Life Support
The 48th International Conference on Environmental Systems was held in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA on 08 July 2018 through 12 July 2018.


PBR@LSR, ISS experiment, microalgae, long-term cultivation, Chlorella vulgaris