NASA 1999 SBIR Phase I


PROPOSAL NUMBER 99-1 08.03-3554 (Chron: 991810 )

PROJECT TITLE

Low-mass, Inflatable Aeroponic System for High Performance Food Production


TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (LIMIT 200 WORDS)

Aeroponics International's (AI's) innovation is a self-contained, self-supporting, inflatable aeroponic crop production unit with integral environmental systems for the control and delivery of a nutrient/mist to the roots. This inflatable aeroponic system addresses the needs of subtopic 08.03 Spacecraft Life Support Infrastructure and, in particular, water and nutrient delivery systems technologies for food production. The inflatable nature of our innovation makes it lightweight, allowing it to be deflated so it takes up less volume during transportation and storage. It improves on AI's current aeroponic system design that use rigid structures, which use more expensive materials, manufacture processes, and transportation. As a stationary aeroponic system, these existing high-mass units perform very well, but transporting and storing them can be problematic. On Earth, these problems may hinder the economic feasibility of aeroponics for commercial growers. However, such problems become insurmountable obstacles for using these systems on long-duration space missions because of the high cost of payload volume and mass during launch and transit. We believe that efficient, high performance large-scale food production for space missions and terrestrial use will only be made practical using the combination of low-mass, transportable inflatable structures, and aeroponics uniquely available in the Inflatable Aeroponic System (AIS).


POTENTIAL COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS

There are several terrestrial markets for the IAS technology including the food crop production industry looking for faster crop turn-around as well as pharmaceutical companies that require technology to rapidly regenerate plant material for metabolic extraction of pharmaceutical products. Yet another use for the IAS technology is for food production in remote locations such as research outposts or even humanitarian relief efforts. The transportability of the inflatable system makes it ideally suited for missions where traveling light is key and water resources are limited.

One of the prime benefits of aeroponic plant growth is its improved method for starting a crop. In an enclosed environment where environmental parameters can be optimized the reliance on seeds could be eliminated and replaced with vegetative propagation as a means to start a crop. Vegetative propagation could be used as an extremely efficient methodology, which would minimize labor and time. Utilizing an enclosed aeroponic system as method and apparatus in conjunction with vegetative propagation could reduce the reliance on seeds as well as eliminate the need for extensive tissue culture procedures and hardware. This would be an invaluable tool for space mission and terrestrial crop expansion. Its market value is in millions of dollars.


NAME AND ADDRESS OF PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR (Name, Organization Name, Mail Address,

City/State/Zip)

Richard J. Stoner

EnviroGen, Inc(Aeroponics International)

333 Springhill Lane

Berthoud , CO 80513 - 1556


NAME AND ADDRESS OF OFFEROR (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip)

EnviroGen, Inc(Aeroponics International)

333 Springhill Lane

Berthoud , CO 80513 - 1556