Water reclamation from human waste is already used onboard the International Space Station. Now, the American Chemical Society has announced some new uses for the inevitable byproducts of human life. As the video shows, yeast strains thrive on nitrogen from untreated urine and that yeast can in turn be fed by carbon dioxide from human breath. Ultimately, the yeast can be used to form polyesters that can be utilized to 3-D print plastic parts. As the film The Martian explains in its fictional story, keeping the careful chemical balance required to maintain a system like this is hard, but several research groups are working on ways to make it feasible. DuPont currently uses yeast to make omega-3 fatty acids for its aquaculture, while other teams are trying to engineer yeast to make polyesters.
Filed Under: Materials • advanced