NASA taps Osram to support its food production research

Ellen Cools
June 13, 2018
By
NASA taps Osram to support its food production research
Courtesy Osram
June 13, 2018 — Osram recently announced it is providing NASA with a customized version of its proprietary connected horticulture research lighting system, Phytofy RL.

The smart lighting software, coupled with a unique setup of connected grow light fixtures, will supplement the lighting technology used in NASA’s Food Production Research focused on production of salad-type crops for crews during space travel.

Osram developed all Phytofy software, hardware and LEDs. The company has also developed a portfolio of horticulture LEDs that irradiate the specific wavelengths needed for optimum growth of a variety of plants and flowers, allowing the light to be adapted specifically for various crops’ needs.

“Osram is developing smart, innovative lighting technologies that can improve food production in a variety of environments, even unique environments like space,” said Steve Graves, strategic program manager of urban & digital farming, OsramInnovation, Americas region. “Many of the world’s coolest and most beneficial inventions have come from scientists at NASA over the past several decades, and to play a role in empowering further innovation through the use of our technologies is an honour. We are excited about the possibilities Phytofy RL will bring to a wide variety of horticulture applications, and our teams are excited to continue learning and refining its setup before ultimately bringing this exclusive solution to market within the next year.”

Phytofy’s features include:

• A UV channel which provides researchers with the ability to add a brief UV light to see how plants react and change
• More LEDs, which means a higher Photosynthetic Photon Flux (PPF). PPF measures light emission by calculating how many photons are coming out of the light every second. This metric helps plant researchers determine the most efficient and effective light recipes.
• An irradience map — researchers can see the irradiance using Osram software

Osram’s smart horticulture lighting system is being piloted through a series of collaborations with universities and research labs. At NASA Phytofy RL will allow researchers to adjust lighting conditions to optimize plant growth in various conditions and then replicate those settings in the Advanced Plant Habitat on the International Space Station, meeting the needs of space food production.

Phytofy RL was recently installed within a growth chamber at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, with plans to move the configuration to one or more of the Center’s walk-in plant grow rooms.

Through radiation with light of different wavelengths, the growth cycles of plants can be controlled and accelerated, allowing the plants to be harvested more often or as required. Special light recipes optimize yield and growth.

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