Russian inventor hopes algae might help crack space travel
By Dan Ashby

A Russian laboratory says it is on course to finish its oxygen-creating machine by the end of the year, potentially transforming space travel in the years to come. 

The photobioreactor stimulates the production of algae, and in the process generates oxygen as a by-product. 

Yes, it's green, slimy and unimpressive. But this could be the future of space travel. /CGTN Photo

Yes, it's green, slimy and unimpressive. But this could be the future of space travel. /CGTN Photo

As little as 500 grams of produced algae, could give one person enough oxygen for an entire day. 

Alexander Shaenko from 435nm, the firm behind the project, believes it might one day help man live for longer in outer space. 

Alexander Shaenko hopes that the algae will allow humans to breathe much longer when in space. /CGTN Photo

Alexander Shaenko hopes that the algae will allow humans to breathe much longer when in space. /CGTN Photo

Shaenko said, "If it's successful, this product will allow people to live in space infinitely, I mean, on the moon or a big station far from the earth, or Mars. If we want to fly far from the earth, we've got to make something like this biosphere."

Photobioreactors have existed for many years, but they've never been energy efficient enough to be useable in space travel.

The machine is in constant development. /CGTN Photo

The machine is in constant development. /CGTN Photo

Shaenko, a space engineer by trade, hopes to change that.

He added: "When we travel to the International Space Station, we have to bring everything to eat and breathe from the earth. And when we fly far from the earth, we cannot bring it. So we have to construct a small biosphere. And this project is the first step in making this small biosphere in space."

(Top Image: The algae produces oxygen as it reacts to the machine's energy input. /CGTN Photo)