It seems that, these days, you can do almost anything with algae, even grow your own biofuel. Artist, designer, architect and scientist, Marin Sawa, is carrying out artistic experiments in 3D bioprinting health food with the green stuff. Although it’s unclear to what extent she has produced 3D-printed algae, her Algaerium Bioprinter prototype is a testament to the possibilities provided by a more symbiotic relationship with the organic processes in our environment.
As part of the Parisian “En Vie-Alive” exhibition curated by Carole Collet, Sawa is one of a number of Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design students proposing ways in which humanity can learn from, work with or hack nature in order to create sustainable methods of design. The PhD student, Sawa, falls into the category of artists that present “Nature as a co-worker”, according to the exhibition. “These designers and architects collaborate with nature. They work with bees, fungi, bacteria, algae or plants and develop new techniques to grow and craft consumer goods. Here, design relates more to gardening and farming than to manufacturing.”
Sawa envisions a world in which health food will be 3D printed on demand in urban environments. In pursuit of such a world, she has collaborated with Imperial College London to develop her Algaerium Bioprinter, which will use the microalgae “superfoods” of Chlorella, Spirulina and Haematococcus as inks to 3D print health food. She is also working on technology to print algal-based energy devices and filtering devices. I’m a stickler for details and details there are not. From what I gather, algae is housed in beakers which act as “ink reservoirs”, their cells are broken, and their nutrients are pushed through a series of tubes out onto what? I’m not sure.
The project, nonetheless, is, at the very least, thought provoking and, at the very most, trailblazing. The bioprinting of algae could bring nutritious options to urban areas previously considered food deserts, due to the prevalence of convenience stores and liquor stores and the detriment of affordable grocery stores. The exhibition, unfortunately, has ended, but you can see descriptions of the installations online, including some other pretty inspiring stuff, such as the Fab Tree Hab Village, which proposes growing homes from trees, and the Biophotovoltaic Moss Table, a table that generates electricity with moss.
Source: En Vie-Alive