Human waste turned into astronaut food

Human waste turned into astronaut food

Poo, it’s what’s for dinner — in house.

Researchers have developed a solution to flip human stable waste into a possible edible “goo” for astronauts on missions to Mars and past, in accordance with a brand new examine.

The system, developed by Pennsylvania State College scientists, makes use of microbes that convert No. 2 right into a protein- and fat-rich meals.

Scientists liken the gross-sounding, however life-sustaining meals substance to yeast-based meals spreads.

“It’s a bit unusual, however the idea could be a bit bit like Marmite or Vegemite the place you’re consuming a smear of ‘microbial goo,’” Christopher Home, a microbe researcher, mentioned in a Penn State assertion.

Recycling waste into meals is a extra fuel-, space- and energy- environment friendly resolution than rising meals or carrying it on a spaceship throughout missions that might final months or years.

Astronauts aboard the Worldwide Area Station now recycle a portion of water from urine, the Penn State launch notes. Strong waste is presently ejected into house the place it burns up.

The Penn State analysis, printed within the journal Life Science in Area Analysis, makes use of anaerobic digestion, a course of through which supplies break down within the absence of oxygen.

“Anaerobic digestion is one thing we use regularly on Earth for treating waste,” Home mentioned. “What was novel about our work was taking the vitamins out of that stream and deliberately placing them right into a microbial reactor to develop meals.”

Researchers discovered that methane was readily produced throughout anaerobic digestion of human waste and may very well be used to develop a special microbe, Methylococcus capsulatus, which is used as animal feed immediately.

The workforce concluded that such microbial development may very well be used to supply a nutritious meals for deep house flight that was 52% protein and 36% fat.

Whereas the examine presents a promising advance, researchers mentioned their system “just isn’t prepared for utility but — this preliminary examine explored the assorted parts in isolation and never (in) a totally built-in system.”