Meals on Mars to be made from plastic waste, says NASA-affiliated 3D food tech expert
‘Steak out of plastic’ and more
Beehex is developing deep-space food solutions using various 3D-printed food technologies. Founded by NASA-affiliated entrepreneur and engineer Anja Contractor, the idea stemmed from giving astronauts exact, individualized, 3D-printed meals in microgravity. Here, crew time is restricted, and cooking is not an option.
“What you see over here is a shipping container…we have completely changed that,” Contractor said. “On one side, plastic waste is collected, which will be shredded. It will eventually move into the bioreactor, which contains very specific engineered bacteria.”
IE learned that the engineered bacteria eat the plastic and convert it into biomass. This biomass can then be used to produce a variety of textures and shapes.
“So if you want to create steak out of plastic, the entire mechanism on one side of this container will be able to produce steak out of plastic- or chicken breasts,” he explained.
Tackling food insecurity on Earth
As you can imagine, printing 3D meals could help tackle food issues right here on Earth.
Contractor revealed that the project is funded by The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)- one of the biggest government-backed forces behind innovation in the US.
“The idea is to first put this type of container at food disaster relief operations such as those related to FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), or locations where there are refugee camps.,” he said.