The group has recently received €4.5m (£3.8m) from the Flemish Government via VLAIO (Flanders Innovation and Entrepreneurship) to support the initiative. Puratos is working with six other organisations, including technology company Magics Instruments and Urban Crop Solution.
Under the programme, four interconnected containers are to be installed at Puratos’ headquarters in Groot- Bijgaarden.
The plant cultivation infrastructure was developed by Urban Crop Solution, which provides systems for vertical farming. The firm will be responsible for further engineering this variable climate biosphere to match that of Mars, using a hermetically sealed building.
Inside, different climatic conditions will be simulated to support the growth of a diverse range of crops combined with the habitation of humans.
Research for the programme will begin in Puratos’ enclosed ecological plant cultivation system and bakery on 1 January 2020.
Group members will learn how to create the ideal environment for the efficient production of wheat crops, as well as other plants that could be included in bread to increase its nutritional value.
Food production on Mars
The group’s aim is to provide a nutritional staple food for many regions across the globe, with the view to developing food production on Mars once space explorations are launched.
Puratos said the project would focus on bread, due to its highly nutritional nature and its popularity all over the world – making it an ideal candidate for consumption in space.
Filip Arnaut, upstream R&D director at Puratos, said: “With this consortium, we are bringing together various knowledge domains and Belgian expertise in order to answer a very important question: how can we further improve nutritional value, sustainability and efficient use of energy to produce food – here bread, one of our main specialties – today, but also tomorrow in more challenging environments.”