Astronauts will soon test a new algae-powered device called ‘Photobioreactor’ that will use living algae to convert carbon dioxide exhaled by astronauts into breathable oxygen and produce edible food through photosynthesis for the scientists up there, as per Space.com.
The bioreactor arrived the ISS earlier this week and will soon enough be used along with another closed loop life support system that converts carbon dioxide to usable methane and water. The leftover carbon dioxide gas will be consumed by the new device where the algae will generate oxygen.
In addition to oxygen, the algae would also produce a nutritional biomass that could be eaten. If the experiment goes according to plan, the astronauts on future long-durations missions or missions to deep space will soon enough get not only a viable source of oxygen, but also protein-rich algae that could someday make up as much as 30% of an astronaut’s diet, reported Futurism.
“With the first demonstration of the hybrid approach, we are right at the forefront when it comes to the future of life-support systems,” lead scientist Oliver Angerer said. “Of course, the use of these systems is interesting primarily for planetary base stations or for very long missions. But these technologies will not be available when needed if the foundations are not laid today.”