Ag Tech News

Ag Tech: Growing Food Crops in Space Using Philips LED Lights.

Somerset, NJ: Philips Lighting, a Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX, PHIA) company and global leader in lighting, has collaborated with The University of Arizona Controlled Environment Agriculture Center (CEAC) to test energy efficient ways to grow food that will help feed astronauts on missions to the moon, Mars and beyond.

Non-water cooled LED lights used 56% less energy; more than doubling production of edible biomass per kWh compared to previous water cooled high pressure sodium system.

Research findings to inform development of new innovations in urban farming

According to recent study, conducted over a nine week period, replacing water-cooled high-pressure sodium (HPS) systems with energy efficient LED lighting from Philips in a prototype lunar greenhouse resulted in an increased amount of high-quality edible lettuce while dramatically improving operational efficiency and use of resources. Lettuce grown under Philips LED modules achieved up to 54 grams/kWh of fresh weight, edible lettuce compared to lettuce grown under a high pressure sodium system which achieved only 24 grams/kWh of fresh weight, edible lettuce. This represents an energy savings of 56%.

Philips Green Power LED top lighting was installed and programmed with a customized “light recipe” developed by plant specialists at Philips to optimize the results. By taking into account a variety of factors including light spectrum, intensity, uniformity and relative position of the lamp to plant canopy, light recipes are formulated. These are combined to develop specific plant characteristics such as compactness, colour intensity and branch development.

In addition, the LED modules, which create less concentrated heat loads than HPS lamps, even without water cooling, can be placed closer to the plants resulting in uniform light distribution throughout the greenhouse. This ensures all plants receive the same level and quality of light resulting in better, more uniform plant quality and a more predictable yield. The Philips LED systems also cool independently, which means no additional investment is required in cooling water distribution.

“It is fascinating to see how LED plant lighting has expanded so rapidly around the world and continues to further develop as we have seen most recently with the Mars-Lunar Greenhouse Project at the University of Arizona,” said Ray Wheeler, a NASA plant physiologist.