‘Algae’ contributes to produce space food! Developing a compact protein production system with algae Spirulina – Our research proposal was adopted by JAXA Space Exploration Innovation Hub-

  • Chitose Laboratory Corp.

Chitose Laboratory Corp., the core enterprise of ‘CHITOSE GROUP’ a family of 11 biotechnology companies active in Japan and Southeast Asia, submitted a research proposal for a ‘Protein Manufacturing System That Does Not Require Grain Resources’ during the call for research proposals by Space Exploration Innovation Hub, established by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), and was selected.

● Spirulina is a microalga that has high protein content and is superior, compared to other microalga, in productivity and resource-conservation during cultivation.
● CHITOSE GROUP has a technology to mass-produce microorganisms like bacteria and algae
● To contribute to increase the supply of protein on earth and food supply in space by developing a new massive protein production system that is resource-conserving with high productivity and space saving utilizing spirulina.

Many countries are working on aerospace development to live on space stations, Moon and Mars , to expand the living spaces of humans. Food supply is of course necessary for human life, but since it is extremely unrealistic to bring all the food from Earth, it is impossible to avoid food-manufacturing while on the way to, or even at the destination.

JAXA is currently conducting a research on a food manufacturing system (=lunar farm) with the vision for the future long term stay on the Moon. Lunar farm requires different production technology than that on Earth. In addition, there are unique conditions such as the amount of work needed by the astronauts and resources (water, O2, CO2, electricity) required must be as little as possible.
Therefore, stockbreeding and fish farming at the lunar farm is still unrealistic in terms of cost (it will be cheaper to send it by rocket from Earth), and without supplies from Earth, it is expected that there will be protein and vitamin deficiency.
From these underlying reasons, the proposal for a new compact protein production system utilizing cutting-edge technology on earth that can support the future long term stay on the moon was selected.

Chitose Laboratory proposed and adopted the research to develop a highly productive and space saving production system utilizing spirulina.

Algae are rich in nutrition like protein and vitamins, and from its high productivity, its possible to cultivate them in a compact and resource-conserving way.
Among all the algae, spirulina has a long history of being a source of food, and is excellent in both protein production and resource-conservation. Also, the system that Chitose Laboratory is proposing can be used without competing with existing farmland and it can be scaled freely, so it is expected to be applicable to different types of business models. Through this development, Chitose is hoping to contribute not only to the protein production system on the moon but also increase the supply of protein on Earth.

■Selected Proposal
【Research name】:Development of a small scale and efficient protein production platform utilizing edible microalga, Spirulina
【Research Summary】:Due to growth in population and businesses, it is predicted that protein demand in 2050 will be double that of 2005. Since this protein demand would not be met by simply increasing grain production, any sort of new protein production system that does not rely on grain is required. At this proposal, we aim for the development of compact and efficient new protein production platform utilizing edible microalga Spirulina.
Spirulina is an algae with a long history of being a source of food, its protein productivity is 15 times that per unit area of soybean, and land and fresh water consumption are approximately 1/27 and 1/5 respectively. This system to produce spirulina would not only contribute to the increase in protein supply but also tor the protein production for future long term stay on the moon.
【Collaborative Organization】:Tavelmout Corp./ IHI AEROSPACE Co., Ltd.

◯About Space Exploration Innovation Hub
An open innovation organisation that collaborates with Universities and public research institutions for research ideas on space development established by JAXA on April 1st, 2015.
It is not only for aerospace but it also aims to develop technologies that could create new industries on earth.


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