The SpaceBakery project will begin research in 2020 for two and a half years to explore the sustainable production of food and provide solutions to manufacturing food on Mars in the future.
Recently launched, the SpaceBakery project is made up of seven Belgian organisations and is led by ingredient manufacturer for the bakery, pastry and chocolate sector, Puratos.
The group has recently received €4.5 million by the Flemish government via VLAIO (Flanders Innovation and Entrepreneurship), resulting in a total of over €6.3 million.
While the consortium’s future ambition is to develop food production on Mars for once humans launch their space exploration efforts, SpaceBakery will first aim to provide a nutritional staple food for many regions across the globe.
As part of the programme, four inter-connected containers will be installed at Puratos’ headquarters in Groot- Bijgaarden. The plant cultivation infrastructure was developed by Urban Crop Solution, a solution provider for vertical farming.
Research will begin in the enclosed ecological plant cultivation system and bakery on 1 January 2020, in which group members will learn how to create the ideal environment for the efficient production of wheat crops, as well as other plants that could be included in bread to increase its nutritional value.
The environment of Mars differs from Earth’s, therefore Urban Group Solution will be responsible for further engineering this variable climate biosphere, a hermetically sealed building in which different climatic conditions can be simulated to support the growth of a diverse range of crops combined with the habitation of humans
Other partners include technology company Magics Instruments, – who will investigate how artificial intelligence can optimise crop growth -bio-sciences research group SCK•CEN, Ghent University and The University of Hasselt.
Puratos claims the project is focused on bread because its “highly nutritional and consumed all over the world, making it an ideal candidate as a staple food for space exploration”.
As well as research on crops, the consortium will study other aspects of the food production cycle, including the use and recycling of resources, the monitoring of microbial climate, influence of radiation, and pollination through automated drones.
Upstream R&D director at Puratos, Filip Arnaut, said: “With this consortium, we are bringing together various knowledge domains and Belgian expertise in order to answer a very important question: how can we further improve nutritional value, sustainability and efficient use of energy to produce food – here bread, one of our main specialties – today, but also tomorrow in more challenging environments.”
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019