Introduction: 360 Degree Growing Chamber: Growing Beyond Earth
My 360 Degree Growing Chamber will optimize space, recourses and provide a highly effective growing environment for plants grown in space. In space, since plants cannot orient their growth based on gravity you can manipulate the direction they grow in by adjusting the location of the light source. In my 360 Degree chamber foliage can be planted on the walls and will grow toward the light source at the center of the 50 cm cube. This optimizes the space very well since it takes advantage of the entire inside surface of the cube for plant development. The plants can be accessed by removing one of the panels that make up the cube. The frame of the cube will be made out of ABS plastic so it can be made at a low cost via 3D printing. The plants themselves will be grown on nutrient filled "growth pillows". These pillows will constrain the soil since there is low gravity in space and will provide the plants with nutrients. The pillows will attach to the walls of the cube via velcro thus making the cube's design very modular and makes changing plants easy.
1.) ABS plastic
2.) LED 360 Degree Growth lamb
3.) Velcro Mesh
4.) Nutrient Filled growing Pillows.
Step 1: Constructing the Cube
Since the box will be made out of ABS all we need is a 3D printer and CAD file and we can create out box! The box uses 4 main parts. The first is a 50 cm x 50 cm x 2.5 cm ABS plate. This part contains grooved edges so that it can be fitted to the other parts. It will also have four .25 inch diameter holes drilled into the top and bottom of the plate. These will be used for fastening the top and bottom panels. It will also have a rod (also made of ABS) what will hold the spherical LED lighting system. The surface will be covered with a velcro mesh that will be used to hold the "growth pillows" to the walls of the container. Velcro is used often in space since it can prevent objects from floating around, and makes removing or adding plants to the cube easy. velcro is also very cheap and can be attached to the cube via an adhesive.
Step 2: Constructing the Cube Cont.
The remaining walls of the cube will consist of 3 types. The first is the back plate which will rest opposite the wall holding the LED growth lamp. This wall is identical to the wall opposite it aside from not having a rod since only one wall will be needed to suspend the growth lamp. This allows more room for plants. The side walls will have grooves that slide nicely into the grooves of the back plate and wall holding the LED lamp. There will be 2 of these walls. The remaining 2 walls will have 4 pegs that will fit into the holes in the wall holding the growth lamp and the back plate. This design make the system easy to take apart or open for inspection. The design also isolates the plants from other light sources in the space station since the direction they grow in is dependent on the light source. By being only exposed to the LED growth lamp we can be sure the plants will not get confused on what direction to grow in, since gravity is not present. All of these walls will also have the velcro mesh to hold the growth pillows to the walls.
Step 3: How Will We Deliver Nutrients to Grow the Plants?
Delivering nutrients to the plants is the most important part of this whole project! Since objects is space tend to float around soil cannot just be placed anywhere, since it will float around the space station. This can damage equipment on the space station. To combat this problem our plants will be grown on soil filled plastic bags. The bags or "growth pillows" will be filled with a moist clay based growth media and fertilizer. The pillows are important to help distribute water, nutrients and air in a healthy balance around the roots. Otherwise, the roots would either drown in water or be engulfed by air because of the way fluids in space tend to form bubbles. Therefore the water needs to be bound with in the clayish soil in order to ensure contact with the roots. The seeds will be attached to a layer that is permeable to plant roots with a small amount of glue. The part of the bag the seed is planted on will allow roots to enter the bag but will keep the soil from escaping. The bottom of these bags will have velcro that can attach to the walls of my cube. This makes a modular system where bags can be removed or added as needed. The fertilizers in each bag will contain Nitrogen, Potassium and phosphorus, which are essential to raising healthy plants. Each bag will also be hydrated with water. Each bag's contents can be altered to best suit what is being grown. Which means that not much about the box needs to be changed given that the plants are within the height constraint.