Sep.12, 2013

Over the years scientists have been exploring the possibilities of creating food using 3D printing technologies. And now it seems the future that you can easily print health food at home is not that far. PhD researcher Marin Sawa is currently working on her 'Algaerium Bioprinter', a device where particular algae combinations can be printed according to nutritional needs.

The 'Algaerium Bioprinter' prototype demonstrates how microalgae can be cultivated in our domestic space to provide digitally printed health food on demand. Here, Algaerium acts as an ink reservoir, containing 'superfood' microalgae such as Chlorella, Spirulina and Haematococcus. The selection of the algae strains reflects the diversity of colours in algae and allows for colourful printed patterns.

Though bioprinted algae doesn't particularly sound delicious, but microalgae - Chlorella, Spirulina, and Haematococcus etc - are referred to as 'superfood' rich in vitamins and minerals.

The algae is dispensed via inkjet-like printing. Different algae strains are selected and their colours can indicate their nutraceutical values. For instance, Chlorella is exploited as health food for its high content of chlorophylls, responsible for its green pigmentation. Such species are cultivated on industrial scale and are increasingly in demand in today's global health food market.

Sawa has been working in collaboration with Imperial College London to develop a new inkjet printing technology suitable for algae printing.

At micro scale, the Bioprinter technology provides a process in which cells can be ruptured and their nutrients can be readily absorbed. At macro scale, the Bioprinter envisions an immediate future in which algae 'farming' forms a new part of urban agriculture to reinforce food safety in our cities. We are also currently developing the technology to print algal-based energy devices as well as filtering devices.

This project is part of Sawa's doctoral research at Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design in London.


Posted in 3D Printers



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Ben wrote at 9/12/2013 9:52:17 PM:

These people have nothing but a photo-bioreactor..... I am getting some live spirulina off kickstarter in a few months and going to cultivate it. I too will have a 'Algaerium Bioprinter' prototype, since there is no printing aspect to the prototype as described by this article. :/

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