Biomaterials in space - ESA Astrium, Inspire
The exploration of space on, travel to distant planets and unmanned missions outside our solar system require the production of new components and spacecraft far from Earth. Our interest is in the production and recycling of various biological products by microogranisms, particularly alga, via optimization of bioreactors for fuels, plastics, adhesives, enzymes, metals, food and other material production.
In order to optimize the growth and biochemistry of algae in space, we are gaining knowledge of how algae are influenced by microgravity. It is especially interesting how cells are mixed, their cell densities and fat content, and their settling velocities. A variety of techniques are employed to explore these micro-fluid dynamics .
The Algae Technology Group
The algae Techology Group is a part of the Competence Center (CC) Bioscience and Medical Engineering (BME) at the University of Lucerne and a member of the European Algal Biomass Association (EABA). The group specializes in biophysical interactions, reactor kinetics and modeling, chemistry and biotechnology.
The focus is on the basic aspects of bioreactor systems and their application and commercialization, including:
- Optimization of algal growth rate and biomass (concentration), and the investigation of microbial bioproducts.
- Experimentation on the lipid production of algal cells and its quantification using a combination of different methods (eg. microscopy, flow cytometry, FDIR, GC, TGA).
- Bioreactor designs for facades in architecture and building technology to provide energy efficient and sustainable buildings.
- Development of a carbon negative algae-biofuel using a novel, 200 liter, automated bioreactor to optimize algal lipid production.
Algal cultures are nearly all marine phytoplankton (diatoms, green algae and calcareous algae). The cells are cultured in temperature controlled room at 15 ° C and 250-400 PPF PAR. The culture media are f / 2, h / 2 and f / 25th.