Controlled Environment Systems Research Facility (CESRF)

University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario
Area(s) of Expertise

The Controlled Environment Systems Research Facility (CESRF)’s Advanced Life Support program is renowned internationally. It boasts strong partnerships, research collaborations and memorandums of understanding with several space agencies and numerous industries and academic institutions globally.

Canadian investments in sealed environment chamber signature technologies are being utilized globally in the United States,  Europe, Spain and Kuwait. Recent advancements in LED, ion-sensor and imaging technologies combined with the development of environmental control parameters (plant/species specific algorithms) have become a driving force for technology transfer and licensing opportunities in areas of phyto-pharmaceutical production, plant genome breeding and prototype large-scale food production systems.

The requirements for Technology Readiness Levels  in space spill into terrestrial applications, giving Canadian greenhouse operators access to cutting-edge technologies that off-set labour and energy costs and promote environmental sustainability. Projects such as AgNorth will provide socio-economic benefits, education and job sustainability, decreasing dependency on Canada’s $85 million per year subsidies (e.g., Nutrition North).

What the facility does

Controlled environment agriculture research and development, including measurement of plant growth, gas exchange, VOC evolution and nutrient remediation.

Research Services

Plant growth and productivity studies, environment sensor prototype development and testing, controlled environment hardware development, assessment of various plant products (chemical, biological, mechanical) under controlled conditions

Sectors of Application
  • Aerospace and satellites
  • Agriculture, animal science and food
  • Education
  • Environmental technologies and related services
  • Life sciences, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment

Name of specialized lab

Name of equipment

Description of function


Five 4.0 m3 hypobaric chambers with 1.5 m2 plant growing area

Vacuum chambers suitable for plant physiology assessment and hardware testing at low pressure


Nine 0.3 m3 cylindrical hypobaric chambers

Short-term assessment of plant productivity and photosynthesis under multi-spectral LED lighting


Two 5 m2 whole canopy plant growth chambers

Large scale walk-in growth chambers for plant growth and photosynthesis research

Sensor Lab

Various electronic and computer systems; soldering station, drill press, hand tools, psychrometers, thermal imaging camera, spectrometer

Sensor and electronics design/test/repair lab

Microbiology Lab

Laminar flow hood, fume hood, water bath, stir plates, BLItz, Steris autoclave

Off-line microbiological support for plant growth studies 

Analytical Lab

Dual column HPLC with conductivity detectors, GC/FID/ECD, fume hood (x2)

Off-line support for plant growth studies  Analysis of nutrient feed solutions

Foliar Analysis Lab

Balances, LICOR LI 3100C Leaf Area Meter.

Wet lab designated for planting and harvest

Systems Control Lab

Argus Control Systems

Computer and automated control systems for greenhouses


  • Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE)
  • COM DEV Ltd.
  • Canadian Space Agency (CSA)
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
  • Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS)
  • European Space Agency - European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESA-ESTEC)
  • Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC)
  • Ontario Ministry of Agriculture
  • Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA)
  • Flowers Canada Retail
  • Root Rescue Environmental Products Ltd.
  • ICT International PTY Ltd.
  • University of Ghent
  • University of Naples
  • University of Beijing
  • EnginSoft Ltd.
  • Intravision System AS
  • Syngenta Biotechnology Inc.
  • Syngenta Crop Protection LLC
  • Nedlaw Living Walls Inc.
  • PlantForm Corporation
  • Deutsches Zentrum fur Luft-und Raumfahrt e.V (DLR)
  • ABcann Medicinals Inc.
  • Tersano Inc.
  • First the Seed Foundation
  • Stokes Seeds Ltd.
  • Let’s Talk Science
  • Heinz Seed (US)