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How can algae help a person live outside the Earth?

Hey. After the launch of Russia’s first kraudfanding satellite “Mayak”, we decided to make our contribution to the approach of distant space flights. In addition to new engines, energy sources, materials for interplanetary ships and planetary bases, a reliable system of water and food supply, independent of supplies from the Earth, is needed. The most promising solution in this area is the creation of terrestrial conditions in space with the help of biological life support system (BSGO) on the basis of plants absorbing carbon dioxide and emitting oxygen, growing on human waste, purifying water and giving food.

Together with space biologists from IBMP, we are building such a system first in the ground version, and then we want to test it in space at the international near-moon station Deep Space Gateway.

For about a year we worked on our own money in our free time and in breaks between tests of the “Lighthouse”, and now we want to speed up and collect money for this on the Bumstarter .

This is a complex task, consisting of a large number of small subtasks, this is like a puzzle consisting of a large number of details. One of the most important is the reduction in the cost of delivering cargo into orbit and protection from radiation, but there are other, equally important.

After studying the possible directions, we settled on the task of providing comfortable conditions for the crew’s habitation, similar to the terrestrial ones. Scientifically, this direction is called the creation of closed ecological systems. A large number of research groups have worked and worked on this problem, but there is still no end to the work. There are different approaches to providing comfortable living conditions and, in the process of research, we came across a truly amazing result obtained in the USSR at the Lilac plant.

Our first photobioreactor prototype looks like this

This installation ensured the breathing of people in a confined space with the help of a unicellular alga – chlorella, which processes carbon dioxide into oxygen using photosynthesis. This installation had an amazing performance – in about one liter of plant per day, 15 grams of dry biomass of algae grew, compared to today’s industrial plants of this type only 2 grams per liter. The installation worked, was compact enough and provided breathing for one person, but, unfortunately, this was achieved at the cost of huge energy costs – 45 kW per crew member, which is more than Mir station gave out – there was only 35 kW of electricity on three.

According to our estimation, using modern technologies, energy costs can be reduced from four to 10 times. We have already built the first version of the reactor, in which the chlorella grows and now, with the experience gained, we are building a second version of the reactor, which should approach the parameters of the “Lilac” installation!

Collecting the entire amount, the project manager will test 435nm on himself. On YouTube live with independent observers, he will wear a breathing mask that isolates his lungs from the atmosphere. Oxygen for its breathing will produce a photobioreactor. He will not remove the mask for 10 minutes – after 3 minutes he will run out of oxygen and the brain will slowly die. But this is in theory. In practice, we are sure that he will immediately begin to breathe. Because we believe in our invention!

Follow the link and support the astronautics!

Project Manager “435nm” Alexander Shayenko
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