LSS hands-on research opportunities for students at the University of Stuttgart



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


48th International Conference on Environmental Systems


Research in the field of Life Support Systems (LSS) has been carried out at the Institute of Space Systems (IRS) at the University of Stuttgart for over two decades, mainly focusing on system analysis and the use of microalgae, especially Chlorella vulgaris, for space applications. In 2017, the LSS knowledge and tools acquired during this time have been first used to provide aerospace engineering master students a unique opportunity to learn-by doing. The hands-on training starts with a series of short lectures, focusing on basic LSS concepts, ISS technologies and potential future biological systems, such as algae, both from a biological and engineering point of view. After the lectures, the students carry out an algae cultivation experiment in a small flat plate Photobioreactor lasting one week, taking measurements of biomass and nutrient concentration, spectrum absorption and morphology observation. The data obtained helps understanding and consolidating the concepts learned in the lectures. Finally, the students use the tool “Environment for Life Support Simulation and Analysis” (ELISSA), developed at the IRS. ELISSA is a time-step based simulation which includes several LSS components (both currently in use or under development) allowing to evaluate the LSS performance over time, and estimate the Equivalent System Mass. The students carry out a trade-off of the potential physico-chemical technologies contained in ELISSA, simulate their selected LSS configuration and finally compare the results of the pure physico-chemical system, with a hybrid one, including a photobioreactor, such as the one they have used on the laboratory. The combination of theoretical lectures, laboratory experiments and simulation analysis provides them the means required to fully understand the insides and challenges of a hybrid LSS. This paper presents the methodology used for the hands-on training as well as the results from the 2017 session.


Gisela Detrell, University of Stuttgart
Jochen Keppler, University of Stuttgart
Harald Helisch, University of Stuttgart
Stefanos Fasoulas, University of Stuttgart
ICES307: Collaboration, Education and Outreach, and Public Engagement
The 48th International Conference on Environmental Systems was held in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA on 08 July 2018 through 12 July 2018.


Master students, Algae research, Life Support System simulation