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Condensed Plantlife for Oxygen in Space
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Having oxygen in spaceships is essential for exploring, but the options are either pre-prepared tanked supplies or else taking a sizeable garden with you.

In either case, or with a mix, your looking at a large spaceship with additional fuel, and it would probably have to be built actually in space.

I suggest a means to condense the secondary option of plants.

I assume that plants, like us, have stem cells (or perhaps they could use ours?). Useing these cells we clone and create a large vat of the plant cellular masses required for photosynthesis. If any additional peices of plant anatomy is required, I'm sure we could accomodate them in the design. But think of the desired cloned mass as a very thick leaf.

A water layer around the vat would be permitted entry through certain membranes and would provide the liquids the cells would need, and light energy would be provided by ultraviolet lamps (either built around the vast or else penetarting the leaf structure)(I may be under some dillusion that plants use ultraviolet light, I'm not sure). Together they would fuel the normal reaction of carbon-dioxide into oxygen.

Selective membranes (which permit only certain molecules or parts of molecules to pass through) are being used in Hydrogen fuel cells, I'm certain given enough work a membrane (if it doesn't already exist) could be created to permit only the carbon-dixoide to enter the vat on one side, and oxygen to leave on the other. So, only carbon dioxide in, only oxygen allowed out.

The shape I propose would be a cylinder with the selective-gas membranes at each end and the cloned plant mass inside with a water layer surounding the vat in an inner lining and the lamps either inside the vat or else at appropriate transparent patches, shining inwards.

Edited: I had here a few questions about hydrogen fuel cells which people where very nice enough to answer. Thanks to everyone. I could not find this information anywhere I looked, and I feared it was like the way people gloss over what happens to nuclear waste.

I have deleted this section now I have what I need and have also deleted peoples answers 'cos it was nothing to do with the proposed idea.

Thanks again!

arclyte, Apr 16 2003

Manned L Point Shuttle http://www.halfbake...L_20point_20Shuttle
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       What are selective membranes?
sufc, Apr 16 2003

       OK, so you're suggesting a SPM that will separate CO2 in solution? Good luck, you've created something that billions of years of plant evolution hasn't.
FloridaManatee, Apr 16 2003

       I really don't think you need the selectively permeable membrane. Just bubble your atmosphere into the tank. CO2 has a higher water solubility than oxygen, and is more likely to be retained. Both can be driven to saturation. From this point, your vegetative matter draws in C02, lowering the concentration, allowing more to dissolve; and releases 02, supersaturating and driving it out of solution. Beyond saturation, any other air you pump in just makes bubbles.
lurch, Apr 17 2003

       i too have given some thought to this.. plants thrive on co2 and give off oxygen, and the're edible.. so its a win/win situation... just pump air through the greenhouse at a slow enough rate to allow the plants to absorb a decent amount of co2.. also, several smaller leaves would be better than one large leaf because there would be more surface area
tazmase2, Jul 21 2003

       Yeah. What [sealorator] said. Better still use a macro algae such as Caulerpa spp. They can be lit 24 hours a day with no detrimental effects to the plant unlike most which need a rest period.They are also excellent oxygen producers.
squeak, Jul 21 2003

       If you could tease the chloroplast out of the plant, perhaps upkeep for these little organelles would be less than required for the whole plant cell. But given you would need to replicate everything a chloroplast needs, an easier way would be to just use a plant.
bungston, Jul 21 2003

       interesting bit of knowledge.. the less light a plant has (except complete darkness) when it is growing, the larger it's leaves will become and the more co2 it takes in when the light is increased
tazmase2, Jul 26 2003

       Can't you just have a machien that seperates the carbon from the oxegen? ( using electricity )
my-nep, Oct 17 2003

       I like the idea a lot, especially the algae variant - perhaps where see-through pods of algae solution through which a flow of high co2-concentration water is introduced at one end, and high O2-concentration water is extracted from the other [+]
zen_tom, Aug 11 2004

       Interesting indeed, [tazmase2]. Is the reverse true - if I give my bonsai tree a lot of light will it develop smaller leaves?
spacemoggy, Aug 11 2004

       //the less light a plant has (except complete darkness) when it is growing, the larger it's leaves will become//   

       So the inverse is also true... Much like near-24-hour exposure to bright light will yield a cannabis plant with mostly buds? (not that I know anything about that...)
Freefall, Aug 11 2004


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