Man-made leaf could produce oxygen for deep space travel

One of the major barriers to humans embarking on deep space travel has been the challenge of taking enough oxygen for humans to survive—plants are extremely difficult to grow in zero gravity. A new leaf designed by Julian Melchior as part of the Royal College of Art’s Innovation Design Engineering course in collaboration with Tufts University’s silk lab, points to a way for producing oxygen that could greatly facilitate deep space travel. The plant is called Silk Leaf and is essentially thin layers of chloroplasts, extracted from plants, then layered over thin layers of silk that provide structure. The result is low-energy consuming photosynthetic cloth lives and breathes just like a plant does using light and a small amount of water to produce oxygen.

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Man-made leaf could produce oxygen for deep space travel

One of the major barriers to humans embarking on deep space travel has been the challenge of taking enough oxygen for humans to survive—plants are extremely difficult to grow in zero gravity. A new leaf designed by Julian Melchior as part of the Royal College of Art’s Innovation Design Engineering course in collaboration with Tufts University’s silk lab, points to a way for producing oxygen that could greatly facilitate deep space travel. The plant is called Silk Leaf and is essentially thin layers of chloroplasts, extracted from plants, then layered over thin layers of silk that provide structure. The result is low-energy consuming photosynthetic cloth lives and breathes just like a plant does using light and a small amount of water to produce oxygen.

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