NASA recently invested $125,000 in a project aimed to solve the challenges of supplying food in space missions. The project would astronauts to create their own food in space by utilizing 3D printers.
Just as a paper printer shapes ink to form letters, a 3D printer uses different materials to create a 3D object. To produce food for its astronauts in space, NASA is looking to print edible materials with 3D printers, including powdered forms of carbohydrates, proteins, and other nutrients. 3D printers could be beneficial for long space voyages because powdered substances could last up to 30 years.
While NASA may be looking to use 3D food printers for space travel, there is great potential for the use of 3D printers here on Earth, namely to end world hunger. With the long shelf life of food produce by 3D printers, the concern of food being wasted due to spoilage disappears. The powdered forms of the nutrients are also easier to transport because they exist in a more compact state.
The nutrients used in a 3D printer can also be retrieved from unconventional sources. For instance, insects could be used as a source of protein, which the UN has noted recently as a way to fight world hunger. Insects are rich in protein, emit less greenhouse gases than livestock, and are easy to harvest. Whether or not insects are used as the protein source of printed foods, the 3D printer could allow for better transportation and longevity of nutrients, which would help considerably in the fight to end world hunger.
– Jordan Kline