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Growing Food in Space

June 11, 2016

Jeremy Wilks at Euronews investigates the MELiSSA pilot plant at UAB Barcelona, where scientists are addressing the issues of producing food to eat and air to breathe while in space.

Beginning with air, the pilot plant is running a test system using rats and algae in which the rats breathe oxygen from the algae, and the algae breathe CO2 from the rats. Francesc Gòdia, Professor of Chemical Engineering at UAB, explains: “The rats by breathing are producing the CO2. The micro-algae capture this CO2, and with the light in the photo bioreactor are able to produce the photsynthesis, producing oxygen. And then the oxygen goes back to the compartment with the animals, and this is done in a closed loop, continuously.”

One of the great challenges the MELiSSA team has overcome is developing a system to almost instantly increase oxygen production from the micro-algae. “The illumination of the photobioreactor is more intensive or less intensive depending on the amount of oxygen that is required by the rats,” says Gòdia.

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