Imagine a way to grow fresh produce anywhere in the world… no matter the season or the weather.
Biotech company Interstellar Lab says it’s possible.
They say their controlled-environment capsule would not only make agriculture more sustainable…
but it could also open the door for crops to one day be grown in space.
This is the BioPod.
It was inspired by space technologies to offer a totally sealed production system.
That means it can grow plants much more efficiently than a traditional greenhouse.
Barbara Belvisi founded the company in 2018.
“Biopod is like a super advanced greenhouse that will collect CO2 from the atmosphere, recycle the water, fully optimize the conditions. So not only will we accelerate plant growth, but more specifically will trigger the production of specific molecules inside the plant. When you do that, you use less resources. You have less impact to CO2, impact on, you know, buying flowers from another country, bringing you to another country to make the extraction. So it’s trying to give a tool for farmers to re-localize production, and by this very large trend of climate that we can do, then allowing them to grow plants they usually cannot grow.”
The BioPod is about 16 feet tall with a surface area of almost 600 square feet.
A combination of technologies ensures a balance of climate, nutrition, and light conditions.
It also uses AI-based management and monitoring software.
BioPod’s unique ellipsoid shape helps with airflow, heating and cooling… and also makes it rapidly deployable.
It requires no foundation or access to water.
Belvisi says the company is working with NASA to design a cube for use in space and another version for the Moon.
“Over time, food will degrade in space, NASA was looking for a solution to grow mushroom insects, vegetables, some microgreens, and that’s what we’ve been designing. So we’re really focusing on recreating the climate so we can cover some of the gaps of the astronauts in space.”
Keeping astronauts well-nourished for extended periods has long posed a challenge for NASA.
The need for self-contained, low-waste food production requiring minimal resources has become more important as the space agency sets its sights on the Moon and beyond.
“I don’t believe in plan B. There is only one plan which is plan A, which is the Earth. We learn how to preserve life on Earth and then this technology can help preserve it here and then bring it to space. But space is not an escape of the Earth. Mars is not a very habitable planet. So we’re going to go there to explore but the plan A is our planet.”
Belvisi is heading to Dubai for this year’s U.N. climate conference to drum up interest in the project and seek investors.
The firm plans to sell each unit for $350,000 once it’s commercialized.