ISS Astronauts Will Test An Innovative Solution For Oxygen And Food – A Photobioreactor

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The astronauts who live on the ISS will test a new device known as a photobioreactor. The device will employ living algae which can convert carbon dioxide into necessary oxygen, and it can also provide food.

Astronauts have to follow a specific diet and robust transportation needed will be needed to send valuable cargo to those who will attempt to go into the deeper areas of space. The logistics of such an enterprise are a bit quirky, but there is plenty of time until such ambitious missions will begin. If the photobioreactor works well, it will offer protein-rich algae that are great for consumption.

The photobioreactor will complement the Advanced Closed-Loop System which can convert carbon dioxide into useful methane and water. The carbon dioxide that remains will be absorbed by the algae. This hybrid solution is called [email protected]

The photobioreactor would provide oxygen and food for the ISS astronauts

This first version of the hybrid system marks an evolution of life-support systems. They have the potential to be used in large-scale missions, but the refinements needed to make them viable for long missions will arrive in the future.

That algae placed inside the photobioreactor, of the Chlorella vulgaris, have a high level of endurance and were studied in-depth on Earth. The miniature organisms harness the power of photosynthesis to produce oxygen while needing a limited amount of light and nutrients. The resulting biomass could replace up to 30% of the food consumed by astronauts. It is expected that the photobioreactor will provide breathable air for the International Space Station for six months.

The ACLS system was built on by Airbus, and it is used since September 2018. The device was built as a technology demonstrator, but it has worked without problems since it was installed. Since the photobioreactor is not able to process the entire amount of carbon dioxide on its own, but scientists expect that the hybrid system will manage to recycle the gas without issues.


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