Skip to main content

Controlled Environment Agriculture Development for Space and Earth

Final Report Summary - CEADSE (Controlled Environment Agriculture Development for Space and Earth)

The two-year Controlled Environment Agriculture Development for Space and Earth (CEADSE) project has now been completed. The project made great progress in addressing each of its three specific objectives. These primary technical objectives are reproduced below:

Investigate CEA technologies including; advanced nutrient delivery systems, ion-selective nutrient sensors, Photosynthetically Active Radiation (PAR)-specific LED systems and inner canopy lighting and their implementation into ready-to-use subsystems within an automated greenhouse module.

Develop and analyze essential aspects of a greenhouse module mass production cycle, considering various preparatory and post processing procedures and interfaces to crew habitat infrastructure (input-/ output relationships).

Contribute to the development and deployment of a small-scale plant production system to the German Antarctic research base Neumayer Station III (as analogue test site for human space exploration).

In addition to advancing the technical work of the DLR Evolution and Design of Environmentally-closed Nutrition Sources (EDEN) research team, the project had considerable benefit furthering the experience level of the research team itself, in addition to the numerous students who conducted internships during the duration of the CEADSE project. The CEADSE project itself formed a strong bond between the CEADSE project researcher (M. Bamsey) as well as the scientist-in-charge (D. Schubert) and has resulted in the incoming researcher deciding to stay on as a member of the DLR research team. Thus, the CEADSE project researcher and scientist-in-charge are particularly enthusiastic with regards to how the knowledge transfer and training provided to the young professionals and students starting during the CEADSE project will continue into the future.

Technical Summary
• Transition of the EDEN laboratory from a ‘new’ laboratory to a fully functional plant growth facility.
• Design and development of a multilevel plant growth system incorporating various advanced controlled environment agriculture technologies (aeroponics, custom constructed root trays, water-cooled LED panels, etc.)
• Sourcing and initial test of ion-selection sensors within the EDEN laboratory.
• Collection of labour and maintenance data through the long term operation of a multilevel growth system.
• First EDEN laboratory plant growth trials completed.
• Preliminary Antarctic greenhouse module design published.
• Considerable Antarctic greenhouse module breadboarding activities completed.
• Strong and diverse Antarctic plant production facility consortium formed.
• Funding obtained for a large, European wide EU project to develop a greenhouse to be deployed to the German Neumayer III Antarctic Station (CEADSE has helped initiate this European wide project).

The CEADSE project permitted the advancement of nutrient delivery techniques for use in extreme environments (space, Antarctica) where minimizing mass, power, volume and waste are of high importance. It also brought other hardware (horticultural LEDs, advanced sensors) and the associated expertise required for its utilization to DLR Bremen. The laboratory now has numerous functional plant growth chambers with aeroponic irrigation systems, plant-tailored LED systems incorporating water cooling, ultraviolet disinfection technology, custom monitoring and control systems, and advanced sensors.

The CEADSE project was one of the primary reasons why the now European-wide EDEN ISS Antarctic greenhouse module project (project reference: 636501 - EU COMPET-07-2014 – Space exploration – Life support subprogramme) was so well positioned to become a reality. CEADSE brought the right people together at DLR (who is now the project coordinator), allowed initial greenhouse concepts to be pursued, surveyed for the first time past and present Antarctic greenhouses for lessons learns and finally helped establish initial contact between a number of the EDEN ISS consortium partners (of which there are now 13). From a technical perspective, the CEADSE project has helped generate a long term European project that well positions Europe to contribute novel hardware to future space-based bioregenerative life support systems.

The CEADSE project had strong benefits from the perspective of training of young engineers and scientists, building a strengthened European bioregenerative life support community and building a strengthened international community associated with Antarctic plant production facilities. In addition, its scientific output has use within the aerospace, life support systems, Antarctic and horticultural sciences communities. The prime EDEN team (DLR employees) is presently composed of five members, three of which are recent graduates (no more than 3 years out of their studies). Bamsey has focused a great deal of his knowledge transfer on these three recent graduates as well as a past team member who left to pursue another project. Throughout the CEADSE project, Bamsey provided guidance to the numerous students that worked with the EDEN team. Bamsey provided guidance to seven different undergraduates, four master’s students and two Ph.D. students. These students were from countries and universities from all over Europe. Bamsey has also supported students in their thesis writing (and general scientific writing in general). Bamsey particularly aided with the master’s thesis of C. Shirran titled: “A nutrient solution distribution system analysis for a multi-crop planetary greenhouse module”. Bamsey also supported the research proposal that provided funding for a PhD student from Beihang University to spend a full year research exchange within the EDEN team. The CEADSE project also supported the Bremen DLR_School_Labs team in developing educational outreach materials and toolkits that were distributed into classrooms in Bremen. These packages focused, along with other educational projects, such as the one at the Bremen Botanika, on educating students on the science and concepts surrounding plant growth in space. Due in part to the CEADSE project, Bamsey was nominated sit on the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Life Sciences and Systems Technical Committee. With very limited European participation on this committee, Bamsey’s membership will provide further insight to the primarily American committee, of the space life science and life support expertise in Europe. As part of his position, Bamsey has contributed to the writing of an AIAA student design contest and has been assisting the technical committee’s award committee in obtaining nominations. The CEADSE project also facilitated Bamsey’s invited talk at the 40th COSPAR in Moscow (August 2014) in which he also served as a co-chair for the session ‘Advanced Life Support Testbeds and Facilities’. During the CEADSE project, Bamsey also acted as an ad hoc reviewer for Biotechnology and Applied Biochemistry (Wiley-Blackwell). Bamsey has also been fortunate to present the results of the CEADSE project at a number of other DLR internal and external venues.

See Dissemination Measures Section