Photobioreactor Limnospira indica Growth Model: Application From the MELiSSA Plant Pilot Scale to ISS Flight Experiment

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Laurent Poughon
  • Catherine Creuly
  • Francesc Gòdia
  • Natalie Leys
  • Claude-Gilles Dussap

Institutes & Expert groups

  • UAB - Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona
  • Université Clermont Auvergne - Polytech Clermont-Ferrand

Documents & links


Bioregenerative life support systems (BLSS) are the foundation stone to self-sustainable manned space missions. The MELiSSA is a BLSS concept that has evolved through a mechanistic engineering approach designed to acquire both theoretical and technical knowledge on each subsystem independently and, therefore, produces the necessary knowledge and experience needed to co-integrate all the subsystems together with a high level of control. One of the subsystems is a photobioreactor colonized by an axenic culture of the cyanobacterium Limnospira indica PCC8005 for revitalizing the air for the crew. This subsystem was extensively studied, and a mass balanced mechanistic model was developed to describe, predict, and control the photobioreactor. The model was based on a light transfer limitation model coupled to a kinetic model for the cyanobacteria growth through a Linear Thermodynamics of Irreversible Processes (LTIP) approach, including substrate limitation. The model was integrated into several hydrodynamic models adapted to several photobioreactors design and experiments, from a 100 L airlift pilot scale ground photobioreactor to a 50 ml membrane photobioreactor for ISS flight. Through this article we detail the principles of this mechanistic model and their application to different photobioreactor scales for predictive and descriptive simulations.


Original languageEnglish
Article number700277
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalFrontiers in Astronomy and Space Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 25 Aug 2021


  • Radiative transfer model, Growth model, Bioregenerative life support system, Limnospira indica, MELiSSA loop

ID: 7179762