The project aims at the integration of microalgae in life support systems for astronautical missions in space. A novel photobioreactor (PBR), which has been specifically designed for applications in zero gravity, shall be integrated into life support systems. The PBR is developed by Airbus Defence & Space for the application on Advanced Closed Loop Life Support Systems (ACLs) of the European Space Agency on behalf of the German Aerospace Center.
With the help of algae the CO2, produced through the respiration of astronauts, can be converted into biomass and oxygen using light through photosynthesis. Therefore the quality of the cabin air is significantly improved. Additionally, the algae biomass, which contains essential trace elements and fatty acids, can be consumed by the astronauts.
Subitec's task was to develop preservation methods for microalgae, which guarantee the vital transport to the ISS. To ensure that algae will be growing in the photobioreactors, the so-called inoculum must be in perfect condition.
Subitec established a method, which allows preserving high cell density algal cultures with a biomass concentration of 10 g / l for a period of at least 12 weeks. The vitality of the cells maintains without limitation.
Once more Subitec proved its engineering as well asbiological know-how. Furthermore microalgae turn out to be all-rounders with enormous potential, even in space.