Heliospectra, a world leader in intelligent lighting technology for controlled environments horticulture, is now one step closer to growing safe space station food crops. Together with the EDEN ISS project, the company has developed a new water-cooled, high-intensity version of the popular LX60 LED grow light, for use in future space exploration and commercial applications.
Heliospectra has been working together with the EDEN ISS project to develop a controlled environment agriculture (CEA) system for safe food production on board the International Space Station and for future human space exploration missions. The company’s role in the project has been to create a water-cooled light emitting diode (LED) solution based on the company’s renowned expertise in horticulture lighting technology.
The new light will reflect much of the benefits of the LX60 Series including wireless monitoring and spectral tuning control system, a wide, uniform light distribution pattern, and low heat emissions. But it comes in a more compact form factor as a result of the water-cooled heat dissipation solution. The first production deliveries of the new light for the EDEN ISS project are scheduled for August/September.
“We are very privileged to be working in such a creative environment with knowledgeable and driven people. This collaboration gives us valuable information on all aspects of a controlled environment agriculture and helps us develop innovative solutions so that they can be applied to larger commercial markets,” said Heliospectra CTO Anthony Gilley.
“The market shows an increased demand for improved environmental control and optimized use of resources. For areas lacking a proper water supply, like the Middle East, or areas with contaminated soil and water like in China, CEA could make a huge difference in utilizing resources. Water-cooled LED lights enable growers to grow crops in a more environmentally friendly way by reusing the heat from the light and reducing the HVAC demand on the system.,” says Staffan Hillberg, Heliospectra CEO.
EDEN ISS is an international consortium participating in the EDEN Initiative, a research program from Germany’s DLR Institute of Space Systems (ISS). It is a project that received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 636501. The overall goal of the EDEN ISS Initiative is the adaptation, integration, and demonstration of food plant cultivation technologies and operation procedures for safe food production on board the International Space Station and for future human space exploration missions.
The next step of the project is to integrate and extensively test all systems developed by the participating members at DLR’s facilities in Bremen, Germany. The complete facility will then be shipped to the German Neumayer III station in Antarctica in October 2017 for a real-life simulation and conclude in February 2019.
This is further proof that Heliospectra is at the forefront of science and research. It is becoming more and more important that cultivation research is done in extreme environments such as space and the Antarctica. Due to global warming and increased population, human mankind will need to grow its food in controlled environments where we can maximise the usage of resources such as water. Already today, plantations in Mexico, California etc have big problems, not to mention the Middle East where cultivation is not possible at all during summer time and the price of tomatoes has increased tenfold. Other potential areas of application are e.g. China where 20% of the global population live, but only 10% of cultivable land is available and only 6% of global water resources. On top, both land and water are many times contaminated, which makes cultivation in controlled environments inevitable.
The systems that are developed by Heliospectra in cooperation with Germany’s DLR ISS, will be used for bigger commercial markets in the future. They will have been tested in the most extreme environments known to mankind.