A Matrix-Based Porous Tube Water and Nutrient Delivery System
A system was developed which provides nutrients and water to plants while maintaining good aeration at the roots and preventing water from escaping in reduced gravity. The nutrient solution is circulated through porous tubes under negative pressure and moves through the tube wall via capillary forces into the rooting matrix, establishing a non-saturated condition in the root zone. Tests using prototypes of the porous tube water and nutrient delivery system indicate that plant productivity in this system is equivalent to standard soil and solution culture growing procedures. The system has functioned successfully in short-term microgravity during parabolic flight tests and will be flown on the space shuttle. Plants are one of the components of a bioregenerative life support system required for long duration space missions.