New Mars Forums

Official discussion forum of The Mars Society and MarsNews.com

You are not logged in.

Announcement

Announcement: This forum is accepting new registrations by emailing newmarsmember * gmail.com become a registered member. Read the Recruiting expertise for NewMars Forum topic in Meta New Mars for other information for this process.

#26 2022-04-10 03:11:26

Calliban
Member
From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 3,572

Re: Chloroplast life support

SpaceNut wrote:
RobertDyck wrote:

chloroplast oxygen generator - based on current real-life physics, and there are laboratory exercises for university undergrad (bachelor) students in biochemistry to harvest and isolate them, but with the undergrad experiment in-vitro chloroplasts only last 20 minutes. To be practical for life support, they must last months.

Wow not good

What is the point of trying to separate and keep isolated chloroplasts?  Why not grow microalgae instead?  These are self-replicating in nutrient solutions with an adequate supply of light and CO2.  There are thousands of edible species, some highly nutritious.  You could grow these and mix them in with other ingredients and flavourings to make food.  If we can use algae to provide perhaps 1/3 of all calories and ship based fruit and vegetables another third, then ship consumables have been reduced by two-thirds.  There are algae that produce edible oils as well.  We could use them to make things like cooking oil.  We can use natural sunlight to do this, by running algae through tubes along the outside of the ship.

Right now we are facing a severe food shortage here on planet Earth.  Food prices were trending upwards long before the Russian invasion of Ukraine.  Now the entire Middle East is facing severe shortages.  It is about the right time to develop algae as a food additive.  If we could add a blend of micro-algae as a 30% additive to flour, say, then we need 30% less flour to produce bread and all of the other things that are made with flour.  We could actually boost the nutritional value of the food at the same time.  This means building solar panels that produce food.  These would be transparent plastic panels with tubes running through them.  In dry countries, panels lije this have the advantage that there is no evaporation.  So algae farming would be a water efficient way of producing food.  Unfortunately, it is also quite capital intensive.

Last edited by Calliban (2022-04-10 03:30:11)


"Plan and prepare for every possibility, and you will never act. It is nobler to have courage as we stumble into half the things we fear than to analyse every possible obstacle and begin nothing. Great things are achieved by embracing great dangers."

Offline

#27 2022-04-10 04:43:35

RobertDyck
Moderator
From: Winnipeg, Canada
Registered: 2002-08-20
Posts: 7,852
Website

Re: Chloroplast life support

Ohhhhh, here we go again. Whole organisms such as algae require nutrients, not just CO2 and water. Source of those nutrients is human feces. Processing those feces to create suitable fertilizer requires bacteria. That requires a lot of processing, requiring large facilities and a lot of time. Furthermore, if you grow single cell organisms such as algae, then you just grew that algae in shit. Literally human shit. Do you want to eat that?

If you grow plants with produce above ground so the fruit or vegetable is not grown in shit, then it takes even more time. NASA studied using a greenhouse for life support. Their study determined time required from the first bowel movement of an astronaut in space until that becomes food suitable to eat would take more time than a human mission to Mars and back. So the astronaut would never eat that food, the astronaut would go to a restaurant on Earth... after he returned home.

Offline

#28 2022-04-10 06:29:55

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 29,310

Re: Chloroplast life support

The search engine is a bit picky... here are just a few such topics where its Algea misspelled

Utilization and Issues of Algae for Martian Colonization
Current experiments on algea, lichen etc.? - Anybody doing this stuff
Algae food
life support proposal - water/waste recycling, food production.
Wastewater Treatment
Crops, Aquatic


The big issues is that there is many varieties of Algae and what to do with each....link of kbd's contains Algae growth
WATER WALLS ARCHITECTURE

Offline

#29 2022-07-05 08:43:32

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 29,310

Re: Chloroplast life support

RobertDyck wrote:

have suggested an oxygen generator for life support. It would use in-vitro chloroplasts harvested from leaves of a plant. The easiest plant from which to harvest chloroplasts is a pea. Whether green peas or yellow field peas. That will produce pea starch as a byproduct. That starch can be broken down to sugar using amylase. Beta amylase is produced by grain, but gamma amylase is produced by a type of mould that grows on fruit; it can be commercially produced by growing on sugary left-overs such as sugar cane after all the syrup has been squeezed out. Commercial sugar is made from the syrup, but the left-over pulp can be used to grow the mould for gamma amylase. A different mould can be grown on that pulp to produce citric acid, but this discussion is about booze. Beta amylase from grain produces malt sugar. Gamma amylase from that mould produces dextrose, a form of glucose. You can distill that to produce vodka. This is why I have argued vodka will be a major product for early space exploration.

You can grow that mould on starch, such as pea starch from the oxygen generator. Dextrose can be used as white sugar for cooking, etc, but it's sweeter that sucrose, which is normal white table sugar. Today in Canada and northern states such as North Dakota, sugar beets are grown for sugar. They're processed, produce white sugar. However, if you want golden yellow sugar, or brown sugar, or dark brown sugar, then you have to add molasses to white sugar. Sugar beets can produce molasses, but it tastes horrible. Molasses for golden or brown sugar comes from sugar cane.

The specifics are not lost as we still work towards a life support based on earth where what is green gives life. What we now know is that even with the correct foods and plants is that we need way more to have in the growing process than what we are going to eat. That means a greater volume is required to achieve our life support system in the future.

Offline

#30 2022-07-05 17:29:12

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 29,310

Re: Chloroplast life support

Calliban wrote:

Robert, well done for a classic post!  I wonder if chloroplast storage life can be improved by chilling the packs?

In previous discussions, you mentioned that food grown in waste water tends to taste like shit.  Maybe fermenting and distilling is a solution that will work here?  Hopefully, the shit taste will be left behind.

Offline

#31 2022-07-06 20:47:58

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 29,310

Re: Chloroplast life support

RobertDyck wrote:
Calliban wrote:

I wonder if chloroplast storage life can be improved by chilling the packs?

Human semen is stored by freezing in liquid nitrogen. These are whole cells, although single cells and small. A sample is thawed for invito fertilization. Even human embryos can be frozen in liquid nitrogen. Whole humans cannot be frozen in liquid nitrogen, because ice crystals form that slice through cell membranes like a knife. They key is size.

I said bags of chloroplats would have lines sealed with an ultrasonic sealer so the bags look like an air mattress. The channels will direct water flow so an aquarium pump can circulate water within the bag. That will promote oxygen to pass through the semipermeable membrane. Narrow channels should also allow freezing in liquid nitrogen.

NBmPVja.gif

Offline

#32 2022-07-07 00:08:22

RobertDyck
Moderator
From: Winnipeg, Canada
Registered: 2002-08-20
Posts: 7,852
Website

Re: Chloroplast life support

Re post #30 above. A lot was removed. I said if you grow algae in nutrient solution, and the source of those nutrients is human feces (aka shit) then if you process that algae as food then that food will taste like shit. Because it literally has shit mixed in.

Human feces and human urine have to be broken down before they're suitable as nutrient solution for algae, or as fertilizer for hydroponics. That's a lot of equipment and a lot of time. Not appropriate for a spaceship. You might be able to justify it on the surface of Mars, but not a spaceship.

Chloroplasts are the solution because they're so simple. Photosynthesis only requires water and CO2. Both have to be carefully filtered to ensure the chloroplasts do not become infected. Bacteriophage is a category of virus that only infects bacteria. Chloroplasts evolved from cyanobacteria, and still have 85% of the genes of cyanobacteria. Normally chloroplasts are protected because they're inside cells of the leaves of a plant. However, in-vitro chloroplasts will be vulnerable. Water can be reverse osmosis filtered. The filter does not have to be good enough to desalinate, just enough to remove any virus. The CO2 will have to be filtered too.

Some of the water sent through the pump can be drawn off to remove starch. Since the water has never been exposed to human feces or urine, it will not smell or taste of those. The starch will be just starch.

Offline

#33 2022-07-07 02:42:44

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 7,607

Re: Chloroplast life support

Robert,

Filtering out viruses is easier said than done.  What about intense UV exposure to kill viruses that way?

Instead of making flour or more complex foods that take additional time and energy, any thoughts on making a sweet drink, with some vitamins and minerals added?

Examples:
sweet Korean "rice water" drinks
"barley water"

Maybe the drink could be flavored like soda, but no high fructose corn syrup, and with some CO2 added to "make it fizz".

Offline

#34 2022-07-07 19:34:30

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 29,310

Re: Chloroplast life support

I did not include the other portion of the post as its about algae and not the pea chloroplast which had started the base topic. I am sure that there is an amount but it's just not as easy to work with.

Offline

#35 2022-07-08 13:00:05

RobertDyck
Moderator
From: Winnipeg, Canada
Registered: 2002-08-20
Posts: 7,852
Website

Re: Chloroplast life support

kbd512,

This discussion didn't raise the idea of flour. We talked about that in the Large Scale Colonization Ship. Flour contains wheat protein, and I suggested synthetic flour could be made by mixing wheat protein with pea starch. Most flour is 70% to 75% starch. This report says one native flour from China contains 80.65% total starch. If this can be done, it would mean we don't need to ship flour from a planetary surface, Earth or Mars. Producing wheat protein separately means we could use it to make protein nuggets similar to chicken nuggets, or patties for a sandwich. Again, something possible on the Large ship, not Mars Direct. The chloroplast oxygen generator could work on Mars Direct, but the only processing for starch would be fermentation with bread yeast and cooking in a microwave oven to make a white pudding with the flavour and aroma of freshly baked bread.

Offline

#36 2022-07-08 13:04:14

RobertDyck
Moderator
From: Winnipeg, Canada
Registered: 2002-08-20
Posts: 7,852
Website

Re: Chloroplast life support

"barley water" - is that beer? Or malta? A street vendor in Miami sold malta. It's made with the same ingredients as beer, but never fermented. Carbonation is added like a soft drink. It's very sweet and heavy. I was told it's a hispanic cultural beverage. When I got back to Winnipeg, a friend told me Germans also drink it.

Offline

#37 2022-07-08 16:56:19

Calliban
Member
From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 3,572

Re: Chloroplast life support

Regarding the production of starch.  Two interesting papers regarding chlorella:

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10. … .503300105

'In Chlorella strain 211/8k the maximum PE was 34.7% which corresponds to a quantum demand (n) of 6.6 per O2 molecule evolved.'

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21404251/

'The freshwater alga Chlorella, a highly productive source of starch, might substitute for starch-rich terrestrial plants in bioethanol production.' ....'The majority of the experiments were carried out in laboratory-scale photobioreactors, where culture treatments increased starch content to up to about 60% of DW in the case of cycloheximide inhibition or sulfur limitation. When the cells were limited by phosphorus or nitrogen supply, the cellular starch content increased to 55% or 38% of DW, respectively...'

In other words, chlorella could provide a starch rich substitute for flour in the production of bread.  It has far superior photosynthetic efficiency than any terrestrial plant.  So we could grow it under optimised spectrum LED lights.  There is only one problem.  I have eaten chlorella as a superfood supplement.  It is without a doubt one of the foulest things I have ever tasted.  We would need to find a way of removing the starch and producing with it something that tastes a little less repulsive.  If that can be done, then high efficiency chlorella could be a staple food on Mars.

Last edited by Calliban (2022-07-08 17:11:41)


"Plan and prepare for every possibility, and you will never act. It is nobler to have courage as we stumble into half the things we fear than to analyse every possible obstacle and begin nothing. Great things are achieved by embracing great dangers."

Offline

#38 2022-11-14 19:18:55

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 29,310

Re: Chloroplast life support

This goes along with your post Calliban and may be another good choice as we will have real world experience with it.

repost

No need to experiment when you have a working model.
Honda's Microscopic CO2 Fighter Can Eliminate The Effects of 20,000 Civics

AA142d26.img?w=534&h=356&m=6

thin tanks of a green goo positioned on top of one of its buildings, being fed carbon dioxide (CO2) through a bubbling tube, absorbing sun and producing oxygen. It's a test bed for a genetically engineered microalgae that is Honda's newest ally in the battle against climate change.

It's called Dreamo and it can permanently capture CO2 and convert it to food and dietary supplements, biofuel, or a bioplastic. The process is carbon negative with one gram of the self-replicating algae absorbing two grams of CO2.

Honda bought the parent strain of Dreamo, officially called UTEX-90 after being created in a University of Texas lab. Honda then developed it further to work in a wider range of temperatures using the least energy input. Honda's version grows five times faster than the original strain and can multiply 32 times per day.

Offline

#39 2022-11-17 23:27:39

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 29,310

Offline

#40 2023-11-13 16:30:44

Calliban
Member
From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 3,572

Re: Chloroplast life support

Fast growing microalgae could be used as a source of chloroplasts.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunaliella

This species is inedible, but has a rapid doubling time and is able to grow in highly saline environments.  This is exactly what is needed for a species that we grow in panels on the Martian surface, as salt will lower the freezing point of the water.  We can extract chloroplasts by treating the algae with a solvent to break down cell membranes and then seperate the chloroplasts using a centrifuge.

The fastest growth is achieved by microalgae growing in acetate solution.
https://www.researchgate.net/post/What_ … microalgae

In this case, the algae themselves do not need to be grown in sunlight, as acetate provides the energy source.  We produce acetate through a chemical reaction between methanol and CO.  Both can be produced using nuclear energy.  We then use acetate solution to grow microalgae in vats.
We then seperate the chloroplasts and run them through plastic panels exposed to sunlight on the Martian surface.  Martian CO2 can provide the carbon needed for glucose synthesis.  The glucose can then be added to foods, sweet drinks or used to ferment ethanol for gin or vodka.

Acetic acid can be synthesised from methanol and CO, using a hydrogen iodide catalyst.  The reaction is exothermic, so will drive itself under the right conditions.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acetic_acid

This process uses an Iridium-Ruthenium catalyst and is more efficient than the Monsanto process.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cativa_process

This allows microalgae, yeast, fungi and bacteria to be grown without sunlight.  In fact, converting solar energy to electricity, using the electricity to make acetate and using that acetate to grow plants, produces 4x as much food as photosynthesis could.  I previously estimated that if all food were produced in this way, a 600MWe nuclear reactor could feed a million people.  This is far more energy efficient than growing plants in heated, pressurised greenhouses.  Previous estimates of base power consumption suggested that Martians would need an order of magnitude more industrial energy than Earthers.  However, the bulk of this energy use was for agriculture.  Using acetate and chloroplasts would cut this energy requirement down substantially.

Last edited by Calliban (2023-11-13 17:11:58)


"Plan and prepare for every possibility, and you will never act. It is nobler to have courage as we stumble into half the things we fear than to analyse every possible obstacle and begin nothing. Great things are achieved by embracing great dangers."

Offline

#41 2024-01-23 07:51:53

Calliban
Member
From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 3,572

Re: Chloroplast life support

More on acetate as an algae energy source.
https://www.science.org/content/article … bound-mars

This probably the most important technology set needed for space colonisation.  If we can produce food cheaply on Mars without needing enormous heated greenhouses, then everything else is semantics.

Once algae have been grown in nutrient solution, they can provide the chloroplasts needed to produce sugars in thin plastic panels on the Martian surface.  In this way, water and Martian atmospheric CO2 can be turned into calories in a compact arrangement.

Last edited by Calliban (2024-01-23 07:54:14)


"Plan and prepare for every possibility, and you will never act. It is nobler to have courage as we stumble into half the things we fear than to analyse every possible obstacle and begin nothing. Great things are achieved by embracing great dangers."

Offline

#42 2024-01-23 08:56:09

tahanson43206
Moderator
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 18,142

Re: Chloroplast life support

For Calliban re #41...

A story in the current issue of Analog (analogsf.com) takes the idea of growing algae to a level I've not seen before.

The protagonist is an "oxygen" farmer who packs containers of oxygen harvested from large algae plots.  The story revolves around the variety of "flavors" of oxygen produced by the system, based upon addition of other plants such as strawberries. 

Your suggestion of feeding CO2 from the Mars atmosphere matches the author's vision of loading the growing chambers with CO2.

The harvesting machinery is able to exclude CO2 from the collected mixture, so anything that is not CO2 is in the mixture sold to customers.

(th)

Offline

#43 2024-01-23 10:44:22

Void
Member
Registered: 2011-12-29
Posts: 7,394

Re: Chloroplast life support

Calliban, I am giving fair warning that I am going to do my vampire thing again in the Terraforming section, using in par your post.  I do not want to contaminate and deviate this thought flow of yours with what I will put in my terraform post.
Your Post: http://newmars.com/forums/viewtopic.php … 74#p218674
My post: http://newmars.com/forums/viewtopic.php … 90#p218690
Thanks, I'm done here.

Last edited by Void (2024-01-23 10:46:22)


Done.

Offline

Board footer

Powered by FluxBB