3D Printing R&D and Innovations Waste Management

Astronauts Will Use Bioplastics Made from Feces

Students of the University of Calgary are working on 3D printed plastic tools made from feces and genetically engineered bacteria.

The students are Alina Kunitskaya and Sam Wilton-Clark.

The purpose is to provide useful technology for astronauts traveling to and colonizing Mars. Astronauts will be able to reduce the equipment needed on board.

Kunitskaya explains:

“Although our initial project was focused on Mars, astronauts are going to face similar challenges on the way to Mars and they’re still going to be producing fecal waste, obviously, on their way to Mars while they are in zero gravity, so we still want to be able to transfer their waste product into something useful while they’re transiting.”

The students were part of the team which won a gold medal at the International Genetically Engineered Machine Foundation’s giant jamboree in Boston last year.

The students flew in a jet which can simulate zero gravity, known as the Vomit Comet, to test out the 3D printed tools. They used a formula similar to poop developed by NASA instead of real feces. The experiment was a success.

The next step is to present the findings from their experiment at a conference in Bremen, Germany later in the year.

bioplastics feces astronauts space