In just a short time, 3D printing has revolutionized the industries of medicine, tech, and design – and the technology’s next breakthrough application could revolutionize our food system. PhD researcher Marin Sawa has developed an “Algaerium Bioprinter” that can produce nutrient-rich microalgae to alleviate food security issues in the future.

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Sawa’s Algaerium Bioprinter prototype focuses on three types of microalgae that are popular in health food stores – Chlorella, Spirulina and Haematococcus. The Algaerium Bioprinter seeks to bring algae farming down to a small scale that can be practiced at home. The bioprinter would extend urban agriculture systems (like urban gardens and window farms) to bring fresh produce to our homes and apartments.

The system is comprised of two parts- the algaerium and the bioprinter. The algaerium functions like a terrarium, fostering algae strains in a reservoir. Once the strains have matured the bioprinter would print a combination of the various strains to create health food supplements rich in vitamins and nutrients for immediate consumption. The project also offers a nutrient resource alternative, should the world’s food security shift due to global warming and overpopulation.

Sawa is currently exploring the capabilities of inkjet printing technology for algae printing along with London’s Imperial College. The researcher is also exploring the uses of algae for energy and water filtering devices.

+ Marin Sawa