Synthetic Plant Respiration: A revolution in Space Travel


One of the most hindering obstacles in the way of making long-distance space reality is the fact that plants cannot grow in zero gravity, this means that we have no sustainable way of producing oxygen in space over extended periods of time.

However, a student at the Royal College of Arts in the UK, may be paving the way forward for space travel, as well as a multitude of other uses such as air purification.

Julian Melchiorri, is the first person to develop a synthetic biological material that absorbs both water and carbon dioxide int he presence of light, and releases oxygen. He worked in collaboration with RCA’s Innovation Design Engineering course, and Tufts University’s Silk Lab to develop this innovative product.

The material consists of chloroplasts that have been extracts from plants, and then implemented into a matrix made from silk protein.

“The material is extracted directly from the fibres of silk,” Melchiorri explains. “This material has an amazing property of stabilising molecules. I extracted chloroplasts from plant cells and placed them inside this silk protein. As an outcome I have the first photosynthetic material that is living and breathing as a leaf does.”


“It could [also] be used for outdoor applications,” he says. “So facades, ventilation systems. You can absorb air from outside, pass it through these biological filters and then bring oxygenated air inside.”




One Response to “Synthetic Plant Respiration: A revolution in Space Travel”
  1. momahony2014 says:

    Really interesting and I can see great potential for buildings.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: