Human waste is rarely as interesting — or as versatile — as it is in space. Earlier this year, Dormhell and Digital Trends covered a NASA-funded research project which implies to turn astronaut excrement into an edible paste that is high in protein and fat. Researchers from the University of Calgary have developed a way to use space poop as a crucial product for 3D printing in the stars. Theoretically, the process will provide astronauts with an abundant source of material for making whatever plastic tools they need during their voyage. This is a visionary strategy thinking about the possible future missions to Mars.
The innovative technique involves the use of genetically engineered Escherichia coli bacteria to convert feces into a type of plastic known as polyhydroxybutyrate. The process starts with the waste being left for several days to increase its levels of volatile fatty acids (VFAs). A centrifugal and filtration process then extracts the VFAs from the waste solids, before the substance is moved into another fermentation tank containing the genetically engineered E.coli. With the use of a Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) 3D printer, it’s then possible to utilize the resulting plasting to print objects. Leftover solid waste products can reportedly be used to create radiation shields. image:Bryan Brandenburg
The plan is for two of the students working on the project to test the plastic-making process in low gravity on Canda’s Falcon 20 aircraft in July. The experiment will only aim to extract nanosized plastic granules from the bacteria — rather than aiming to carry out the whole polyhydroxybutyrate extraction and 3D-printing process.The students are also hoping to learn how to make different types of plastic. This will hopefully include different materials with varying characteristics such as strengths and flexibility levels , which could be used for a variety of space applications.
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Article: Luke Dormhell 04/09/2018 Digital Trends https://www.digitaltrends.com/cool-tech/space-astronaut-poop-3d-printing/ visited on 10th April 2018.
University of Calgary https://cumming.ucalgary.ca/partnerapps, visited on 10th April 2018.
Bryan Brandenburg, bryanmbrandenburg.com/escherichia-coli/, visited on 10th April 2018.
visited on 10th April 2018.