Osram Supplies NASA Smart LED Grow Light System for Food Production Research

Osram, the German-based global lighting company, reported that the company is supplying the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) with a customized model of it connected horticulture research lighting system, Phytofy RL. The uniquely set up grow light fixtures will use smart grow lighting software to supplement the lighting technology used in NASA’s Food Production.

NASA intends to use the system to research the production of salad-type crops for crews during space travel.

Osram points out that it developed all of the software, hardware, and LEDs in the Phytofy grow lights. Additionally, Osram Opto Semiconductors, Osram’s LED-making subsidiary has developed a broad portfolio of horticulture LEDs that irradiate the particular wavelengths needed for optimum growth of a wide variety of plants and flowers.
In the customized grow light system, Osram used a unique combination of these LEDs to allow the light to be adapted specially for the needs of various crops.

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NASA uses customized Phytofy Smart LED grow light system from Osram to grow crops at Kennedy Space Center in Houston.

NASA uses customized Phytofy Smart LED grow light system from Osram to grow crops at Kennedy Space Center in Houston.

Hort Americas introduced NASA to Osram. Hort Americas, which works closely with leading manufacturers to supply North American vertical farmers, greenhouse growers, and researchers with the most advanced and cost-effective products to help them achieve their quality, yield, and project goals.

NASA Specified List of Features They Needed in a Grow Light

Members of NASA’s food production research team gave Hort Americas a list of features they wanted from a grow light fixture. Hort Americas then used its network to help NASA work with Osram to learn more about the company’s Phytofy RL horticulture lighting technology, which Osram claims is unlike any commercially available grow light system.

Phytofy’s unique features include:

A UV channel gives researchers the ability to add a brief UV light to see how plants react and change. More and higher intensity LEDs result in a higher Photosynthetic Photon Flux (PPF). PPF measures light emission by calculating how many micromoles of photons are coming out of the light every second. This metric helps plant researchers determine the most efficient and effective light recipes.

An irradiance map shows the spectral distribution and intensity of light over an area. Researchers can visualize the irradiance map using Osram software. So, they do not need to measure irradiance separately before changing the light settings.

Osram is pilot testing its smart horticulture lighting system via a series of collaborations with research labs and universities around the world. The research labs and universities are using the technologies and sharing insights.

At NASA Phytofy RL Lets Researchers Optimize Plant Growth

At NASA, Osram’s Phytofy RL will let researchers easily adjust light conditions to optimize plant growth in various environmental conditions and then replicate those settings in the Advanced Plant Habitat on the International Space Station, thereby meeting the complex requirements of space food production. NASA recently completed the installation of customized Phytofy RL system within a growth chamber at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. And the space exploration organization plans to move the set up to one or more of the Center’s walk-in plant grow rooms.

Light of different wavelengths can control and accelerate the growth cycles of plants, allowing the plants to be harvested either more frequently or as needed. Also, unique light recipes can optimize not only yield and growing time as well as increase the amount of vitamin and nutrient content of the plants, and can enhance certain flavors and tastes. For this application, LEDs not only provide tailor-made bioactive lighting, but they also work very efficiently.

“Osram is developing smart, innovative lighting technologies that can improve food production in a variety of environments, even unique environments like space,” said Steve Graves, strategic program manager of Urban & Digital Farming, Osram Innovation, Americas Region. “Many of the world’s coolest and most beneficial inventions have come from scientists at NASA over the past several decades, and to play a role in empowering further innovation through the use of our technologies is an honor. We are excited about the possibilities Phytofy RL will bring to a wide variety of horticulture applications, and our teams are excited to continue learning and refining its setup before ultimately bringing this exclusive solution to market within the next year.”