Local college students using algae to improve space travel

Students at Florida Poly Tech are using algae in new ways. 

“Algae is very diverse there’s so many different kind this is one of the special groups,” said Dr. Melba Horton, an assistant professor of Biology.  

In the labs, they're using diatoms, a form of microscopic alga as a way to streamline the process of capturing carbon dioxide and producing oxygen.  Breathable air of course, is a critical part of space travel for astronauts. 

“Current systems that do similar processes are not only bulky but extremely expensive and very inefficient,” said junior Geoffrey Doback. 

“What makes this unique is the material we're using,” Dr. Horton said.  

Their work is being funded by the NASA Florida Space Grant Consortium.  For students like Geoffrey Doback this is more than simply a class project. 

“To be able to make a lasting impact is extremely important to me and it’s something I not only want to do but plan to do,” Doback said.  

Tests have already shown great promise and work to patent the tech is underway.  So believe it or not, one day algae could be a key piece of space travel.