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Algae photobioreactor concept

Researchers at University of Stuttgart are working on algae cultivation concepts for future applications in regenerative life support systems.

The Institute of Space Systems (IRS) at University of Stuttgart is located within the Space Center Baden-Württemberg (RZBW). RZBW holds new state-of-the-art labs and the research topics include astronautics, space stations, airborne/infrared astronomy, space systems as well as space transportation technology. IRS investigates life support and energy systems strategies for future human space exploration, especially by integration of algae photobioreactors, fuel cells and electrolysers. The institute conducts numerical simulations such as life support systems analyses, as well as experimental investigations on microalgae photobioreactors.

An EMCS-concept for performing algae research in space

As higher plants, algae can produce oxygen and food based on light and carbon dioxide, and can be used as a basis for future regenerative life support systems for long-term missions in space. However, algae require different growth conditions and different cultivation strategies, requiring in-depth knowledge of algae cultivation in space. Currently, in the European Modular Cultivation System (EMCS) on board the International Space Station, plants are cultivated in a Plant Cultivation Chamber. The EMCS is designed so that the Plant Cultivation Chamber can be exchanged with other chambers, e.g. an Algae Cultivation Chamber.


As part of the TIME SCALE project, University of Stuttgart develops an algae cultivation concept for the EMCS. The researchers design an Algae Cultivation Chamber where algae can be grown under controlled conditions, to allow experiments on e.g. nutrient consumption, biomass production and light requirements under different gravitational conditions.