Another Space Fantasy?
The final frontier? Astronauts could recycle their waste into protein paste
We might sometimes talk about eating crap on a night in, but that’s nothing compared to the more literal crap future astronauts could well find themselves chowing down on. That’s thanks to researchers at Penn State University, who have been using a research grant from NASA to develop technology for breaking down solid and liquid waste, and transforming it into food that’s hygienic and safe for humans — albeit something you probably won’t be serving at a dinner party anytime soon. The resulting foodstuff is high in both protein and fat, and apparently not dissimilar to savory British sandwich spread, Marmite. “This is not the typical research direction for my laboratory, but among other things we do work with unusual microorganisms,” Christopher House, professor of geosciences at Penn State, told Digital Trends. “In 2009, NASA had a call for proposals for educational research projects that advance the topic of space colonization. Lisa Steinberg, who is an environmental engineer, and I proposed to that call the general concept here of coupling anaerobic digestion to microbial growth of non-pathogenic microbes.” Source