NASA SBIR 2015 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 15-1 H3.02-9680
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Bioregenerative Technologies for Life Support
PROPOSAL TITLE: Solar Plant Growth System for Food Production in Space Exploration Missions

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Physical Sciences, Inc.
20 New England Business Center
Andover, MA 01810 - 1077
(978) 689-0003

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Dr. Takashi Nakamura
6652 Ownes Drive
Pleasanton, CA 94588 - 3334
(925) 743-1110 Extension :10

CORPORATE/BUSINESS OFFICIAL (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Dr. B. David Green
20 New England Business Center
Andover, MA 01810 - 1077
(978) 689-0003 Extension :8146

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 2
End: 4

Technology Available (TAV) Subtopics
Bioregenerative Technologies for Life Support is a Technology Available (TAV) subtopic that includes NASA Intellectual Property (IP). Do you plan to use the NASA IP under the award?

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Physical Sciences Inc. (PSI), in collaboration with Vencore Services and Solutions, Inc. (Vencore) and Utah State University (USU), proposes to develop a Solar Plant Growth System for Food Production in Space Exploration Missions. In the proposed system solar light is collected by the reflector optics and only the photosynthetically active radiation spectra (PAR: 400 nm < λ < 700 nm) are transmitted to the plant growth chamber. The PAR spectra transmitted to the plant growth chamber are distributed over the plant growth area at optimum intensities for plant growth. The non-plant growing spectra (non-PAR) are not reflected by the dichroic PAR reflector and transmitted to energy conversion devices such as low-bandgap photovoltaic (PV) cells for electric power generation. The electric power generated can be used for supplemental lighting and/or facility operation.

In the proposed program we will develop a ground-based prototype plant growth system by integrating (i) the solar plant lighting technology developed by Physical Sciences Inc. (PSI) with (ii) state of the art plant growth technologies for food production in space. In Phase I, a laboratory prototype plant growth system consisting of: solar concentrator; optical fiber cable; lighting panel; plant growth chamber; and plant watering module will be developed, and functionality tests and performance evaluation will be conducted. Based on the results of Phase I an engineering prototype solar plant growth system will be developed and tested in a ground based facility.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The proposed Solar Plant Growth System for Food Production is for application to: 1) onboard a crewed spacecraft such as the Deep Space Habitat or ISS where compact and efficient solar photosynthetic life support is required; and 2) a Lunar, NEO or Mars base where large scale food production and life support are implemented.

The conventional concept for plant lighting is to employ electric lamps such as fluorescent, or high-pressure sodium (HPS) lamps or light emitting diodes (LED). With this conventional system concept, it is difficult to achieve high photosynthetic food production without causing unmanageable parasitic heat loading. For the proposed system, only the PAR spectra are delivered to the plant growth chamber by a compact flat lighting panel, thereby reducing most of the parasitic heat generation in the habitat.

The proposed solar lighting system can also be utilized to supply solar thermal power to the habitat by changing the PAR mirror to the full spectral reflective mirror. Thermal power delivered to the habitat can be used for: habitat thermal control; manufacturing; and material processing. PSI has demonstrated such applications of the solar power system in our previous NASA program related to ISRU. The system concept discussed in this proposal has many other NASA applications such as material recycling such as nutrient re-use, and pollution removal from water (rhizofiltration) in human habitat.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The solar lighting system discussed in this proposal can be used for household, commercial or industrial lighting. In addition, industry and educational institutions that are currently using electric lamps for plant lighting will likely deploy the proposed system.

In 2009, PSI developed a prototype solar lighting system for agricultural transplants with USDA SBIR funding. In this program we provided solar lighting within the protected transplant growing chamber.
This technique can be applied to controlled production of pharmaceuticals using transgenic plants or specialized native plants.

An interesting application of the optical fiber based (Optical Waveguide) solar lighting system is for "Vertical Farming." Vertical Farming' could provide fresh vegetables in urban areas in the off season, if an efficient light delivery system is available. To date, Vertical Farming with electric lighting has been limited by the inefficiency of solar photovoltaic cells and the associated low conversion efficiency of electric lights. By using the solar lighting system based on Optical Waveguide lighting, the deficiency of Vertical Farming can be eliminated. A solar based light delivery system would eliminate the need for the greenhouse and make all parts of the growth system highly productive. The work described in this proposal has the potential to fundamentally change our ability to produce fresh food from local suppliers on a year round basis.

TECHNOLOGY TAXONOMY MAPPING (NASA's technology taxonomy has been developed by the SBIR-STTR program to disseminate awareness of proposed and awarded R/R&D in the agency. It is a listing of over 100 technologies, sorted into broad categories, of interest to NASA.)
Biomass Growth
Essential Life Resources (Oxygen, Water, Nutrients)
Food (Preservation, Packaging, Preparation)

Form Generated on 04-23-15 15:37