GrowMesh for Microgravity

Introduction: GrowMesh for Microgravity

About: We have developed the GrowMesh Sleeve which provides Vertical Simplicity for everyone.

This design serves the purpose of maximizing volumetric space. It does this with a modified Fibonacci spiral. The seedlings start from the center and are moved outward to the edge of the spiral. This method of moving the growing device throughout the growth cycle creates a continuous supply of lettuce while allowing plants to expand to the volume of the spiral. Lights are placed on the inner portion of the spiral. Fans placed at the largest opening of the spiral allow air exchange to the center of the spiral via — a duct attached to one side. Plants are contained in a GrowMesh Sleeve modified for microgravity. The Sleeve is serviceable via a zippered opening along the edge of the Sleeve. The nutrient is prevented from escaping the Sleeve with the addition of super absorbant polymer at the pocket opening.

The nutrient is delivered to the GrowMesh Sleeves via — the nutrient channel connected to the central manifold. A manifold is used to connect all reservoirs and nutrient channels. This is to prevent leaks and provide a serviceable component. Alternate to the GrowMesh Sleeve, a porous tube can be substituted for the growing device.

A proprietary method for delivery and retrieval of the nutrient is used, which is not dependent on gravity. A separate reservoir for PH buffer and nutrient concentrate is located within the container.

Maximum yield can be achieved by selectively harvesting plants during stages of the growth cycle. Example: a GrowMesh Sleeve may be planted with five seeds to start, but end up with two large plants which make it to maturity. The other three plants are harvested during the growth cycle contributing to the total yield.

Supplies:

Aluminum sheet

Aluminum block

Carbon Metal sheet

3d filament

GrowMesh Sleeve adapted for microgravity

Fans

Radiator

Submersible pump

Microcontroller

Sensors - PH, EC, DO, Temp

Led lighting strips

Gasket material

Rubber washers

Wire

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Step 1: Prepare Files

Prepare and convert files suitable for 3d printer , Laser cutter and CNC mill

Step 2: Make Parts

Cut - with the Laser cutter the spiral components ribs and covering

Print – with the 3d printer the following parts

Reservoir for main nutrient solution

Reservoir for PH and nutrient concentration

Duct for the air circulation connection housing for the fans and radiator

Optional 3d print – Manifold for connecting reservoirs and growing devices

Mill - Manifold for connecting reservoir and the growing devices

Step 3: Assembly

Assembly all components using various techniques.

Weld ribs and sheet together, mount wiring for lights on the inner portion of the spiral.

Affix reservoirs in the proper location.

Mount the fans and radiator.

Position the manifold and attach it to the spiral.

Position and attach the air duct.

Insert GrowMesh Sleeves into the corresponding orifice along the spiral.

Step 4: GrowMesh Sleeve in Action.

The above images are of plants in a GrowMesh Sleeve not adapted for microgravity, growing Dwarf Red Robin tomato plants.

GrowMesh adaptation for microgravity will contain a layer of superabsorbent polymer in the pocket opening positioned between a thin layer nonwoven fabric. This will form a disposable assembly to be used in the Sleeve. Further adaptations for microgravity include a zipper along the side of the GrowMesh Sleeve allowing access to the root zone of the plant for pruning or cleaning and reuse of the Sleeve.

GrowMesh does not use media or substrate for the root zone.

Nutrient delivery and retrieval are accomplished with a proprietary method that is not dependent on gravity.

Images show SAP experiments with HDPE Film and nonwoven fabric.

Images display a mock-up of the PGU (Portable GrowMesh Unit), PGU contains a fitment for attachment to the nutrient channel which also prevents leaks while moving to a workstation for pruning, planting harvesting or maintenance.

Step 5: Lettuce Grown in the GrowMesh Sleeve

The above lettuce was grown in the GrowMesh Sleeve (not adapted for microgravity).

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