Regenerable Seed Plugs from Formed Plant Fiber

Period of Performance: 01/01/2000 - 12/31/2000

$70K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Orbital Technologies Corp.(orbitec)
Space Center, 1212 Fourier Drive
Madison, WI 53717
Principal Investigator
Firm POC

Abstract

The objective of this proposal is to develop and evaluate regenerable plant supports from inedible plant fiber for use in Advanced Life Support (ALS) System plant growing units. Plant supports of interest include seed plugs, seeding mats, root/shoot barriers, and plant fences. The innovation is to develop totally regenerable plant structures that retain sufficient structural integrity for plant support over one crop cycle, that can be fabricated on-site, are non-toxic to plants, and which do not require separation from the inedible plant waste stream. By forming expendable components from inedible plant material already in the ALS system, resupply mass can be significantly reduced (an annual supply of non-regenerable seed plugs is about 124 to 3000 kg depending on the type). Harvesting procedures would be simplified since support structures would be processed directly as part of the inedible waste stream. The use of regenerable seed plugs would also reduce crew time, and simplify the mechanization of seeding and harvesting processes. Proposal tasks involve processing plant fibers, fabrication of prototypes, and mechanical and biocompatibility testing of the prototype regenerable seed plugs. The anticipated result of this project is a process and associated technology to produce regenerable plant supports meeting ALS operational requirements.