A group of international researchers led by Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) in the Netherlands used 3D printing to create a biomaterial made of algae that could lead to sustainable energy production on Mars, as well as a number of other applications.
Researchers used a novel bioprinting technique to print the microalgae into a living, resilient material capable of photosynthesis. Their research is published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials .
“We have created a material that can produce energy simply by putting it under the light”, Kui Yu, researcher involved in the work. “The biodegradable nature of the material itself and the recyclable nature of the microalgal cells make it a sustainable, biodegradable and scalable living material for mass production. Living cell printing is an attractive technology for manufacturing engineered living materials. Our photosynthetic living material has the unique advantage of being mechanically robust enough for applications in real contexts ”.
One of the applications touted by the TU Delft team is as a sustainable energy source on space colonies. The team says the material could be used to create artificial leaves that could produce sustainable energy and oxygen in environments where plants typically don’t grow well, such as in space. The leaves would store energy in chemical form as sugars, which can then be converted into fuels. Oxygen could also be collected during photosynthesis.
The research adds to a growing list of scientific literature on solutions for growing plants in space rather than sending supplies from Earth, which would be prohibitively expensive – it costs about $ 10,000 to send a 453 grams of materials into low Earth orbit.
In 2017, for example, the German space agency tested the cultivation of tomatoes in the recycled urine of astronauts aboard the International Space Station.
Source: Il Blog di Beppe Grillo by beppegrillo.it.
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