SyNRGE

This interview details SyNRGE, an indoor farming technology company based in the United States. The interview is with Dr. Gary Stutte, Founder of SyNRGE.

Source: SyNRGE

What is the origin story of SyNRGE?

SyNRGE was established in June of 2015 with the objective of using the knowledge and technology used to develop a sustainable life support system on the Moon and Mars to the sustainable production of food here on Earth.

SyNRGE, LLC provides consulting services to academic, government and industry clients on the design, feasibility, and operation of CEA facilities in North America, Latin America, and Europe. 

SyNRGE, LLC takes its name from a series of space flight experiments lead by its founder, Dr. Gary Stutte, that explored the interactions between plants and beneficial microbes in space. These experiments highlighted the importance of plant/microbe interactions in achieving consistent high production and symbolize the relationship between exploration and application required to meet the challenges of sustainable food production on Earth.

SyNRGE has a laboratory in the Space Life Sciences Laboratory at the gate of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and began developing the results of those experiments into applications specific to the hydroponic production of crops produced using controlled environment agriculture. 

Source: SyNRGE

What are some of the biggest challenges facing SyNRGE in the future? 

SyNRGE has two primary challenges: 

The first is to demonstrate that the microbial communities SyNRGE has recovered from spaceflights provide resistance to disease, resiliency from environmental stress, and improved plant growth at commercial scale. It is challenging to secure the capital necessary to move the technology from the laboratory into the production facility. This work is being done in SyNRGE laboratory and testing being performed in cooperation of academic and industry partners. I am confident that the success of our microbial communities on improving profitability and sustainability of CEA facilities will result in greater acceptance in the future.

Source: SyNRGE

The second is addressing misconceptions of sustainability of CEA in general and Indoor agriculture on water use, consistency of product, recyclability, energy efficiency and environmental control. This is such an issue that SyNRGE is a founding member of the independent, not-for-profit Controlled Environment Design Standards Inc (CEADS) that established objective criteria to score a facility over seven domains of sustainability.

The spacefaring nations of the world have been developing biological life support systems to sustain crews on long duration space missions since the 1980’s and were innovators in use of solid state lighting (LED’s), recirculating hydroponics, and elevated CO2 that enabled the emerge of the indoor agriculture industry and providing a tool to meet the demands for food of a growing population. The adoption of these innovations has potential to enable the sustainable production of high-quality food anywhere on the plant. The challenge is ensuring that that the technology continues to be used to meet the demands of the plants, and not make the plant a slave to technology.

Source: SyNRGE

What is unique about SyNRGE compared to competitors? 

SyNRGE’s research team of accomplished microbiologist, molecular biologists, and horticulturalist have a depth of experience with the design, implementation and interpretation of projects performed under intense limitations of power, mass, and volume as well as direct experience with challenges of commercial hydroponic controlled environment agriculture here on Earth. The depth and breadth of experience offers an exceptional knowledge base for clients to draw upon to meet their challenges.

SyNRGE has an ethos that sustainable crop production can be achieved when technology is used to meet the demands of plants, biological solutions exist for biological problems, and that innovation required to explore the universe can sustain planet Earth.

Source: SyNRGE

What is the current size of your growing area? 

SyNRGE supports clients producing food and pharma hydroponically in controlled environment facilities from its laboratory in the Space Life Science Laboratory (SLSL). The SLSL is a 104,000 ft2 (9660 m2) facility located in Exploration Park directly outside the security perimeter of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. 

What are your thoughts on CO2 usage in indoor farms? 

The use of plants to prevent the accumulation of CO2 to toxic levels in space-based habitat and its conversion to oxygen though the process of photosynthesis is the basis for the development of a sustainable biological life support system for long duration space missions. The process of photosynthesis is limited by either the light intensity or carbon dioxide concentration. 

Increasing the concentration of carbon dioxide from the ambient of ~400 ppm to 1000-1200 ppm will typically show a linear increase in yield. The concentration and control strategy are unique to each client’s facility. An indoor production facility dependent on sole source lighting requires CO2 supplementation to prevent CO2 depletion in the production room to levels that cannot support growth. Ideally, increasing to 2X or more of ambient (800-1200 ppm) will result maximum growth and yield. The decision on how to manage the CO2 supplementation requires balancing the cost of CO2 against the increase in economic yield.

Source: SyNRGE

How can people connect with you or learn more about SyNRGE?

I would encourage people to subscribe to SyNRGE LLC’s periodic newsletter, Growing Space, at www.DrStutte.com or www.synrge.com for information on becoming a client.

Source: SyNRGE

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