Scientists found a way to transform astronaut feces into edible 'microbial goo'

Polycount

TS Evangelist
Staff member

Penn State researchers may have discovered a way to turn human feces into safe, edible (though perhaps not tasty) goop. According to the research team, their primary goal is providing astronauts with a way to sustain themselves without the need for frequent, expensive supply runs from Earth.

"We envisioned and tested the concept of simultaneously treating astronauts' waste with microbes while producing a biomass that is edible either directly or indirectly depending on safety concerns," said Penn State professor of geosciences Christopher House. "It's a little strange, but the concept would be a little bit like Marmite or Vegemite where you're eating a smear of 'microbial goo.'"

The process researchers used to recycle feces, called "anaerobic digestion," is quite similar to what you'd see at a waste treatment plant. In this case, the research team allowed artificial solid and liquid waste to come into contact with certain microbes. Using anaerobic digestion, the microbes broke down the waste, allowing researchers to extract viable nutrients. The nutrients were then placed in a "microbial reactor" used to grow edible food.

As unappetizing and complex as this process may sound, the potential benefits of mastering it are innumerable. Astronauts would be able to go on longer trips and venture deeper into space than ever before. Researchers say reaching 85 percent efficiency -- the percentage of carbon and nitrogen successfully recycled from waste -- would be a "fantastic development" for deep-space travel.

This isn't the first time science has found a way for astronauts to recycle their own waste. In 2017, Phys reported researchers had discovered a method of recycling urine and exhaled air into new chemicals via microorganisms, allowing for the creation of nutrients and "small amounts of polyesters."

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cliffordcooley

TS Redneck
What a great time it is to be an astronaut.

Bring this up as a topic in school and see how many new recruits we get. I have a feeling they would rather drive around garbage collection trucks, than volunteer to eat garbage.
 

psycros

TS Evangelist
How is this any different than eating mushrooms, which are fungus raised mostly in excrement? Nearly all organic farming uses manure as a fertilizer. This is just another kind of farming - it literally says their raising microbes that extract nutrients from feces and then those nutrients are farmed in a reactor.
 

Evernessince

TS Evangelist
How is this any different than eating mushrooms, which are fungus raised mostly in excrement? Nearly all organic farming uses manure as a fertilizer. This is just another kind of farming - it literally says their raising microbes that extract nutrients from feces and then those nutrients are farmed in a reactor.
Mushrooms aren't grown like most produce. The main factors in growing mushrooms are temperature, humidity, growing substrate, and light. You can use manure as single component of your mushroom growing substrate but it isn't the most popular option nor does it meet the needs of all variety of mushrooms. It would be more accurate to call your typical supermarket veggies as grown in excrement that it would for mushrooms.
 
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Capaill

TS Evangelist
I'm sure it could also benefit submariners who regularly spend 6 months under water. Let's push that out to 12 months by eating your colleagues' sh...
The human trials will be interesting.
 
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Trillionsin

TS Evangelist
Nobody said space travel was going to fun! Unless you are that one rare person who already loves to eat their....
 

captaincranky

TechSpot Addict
This is truly stunning scientific achievement! (y) Now the old meme, "eat sh!t and die", can be used as a good natured toast between friends. After which, a hearty slap on the back, along with a deep draft of recycled urine, will seal a lifelong friendship. Cheers, comrades! :D

As an evolutionary advancement, the monkey, (sorry, great ape), has learned to process feces into food. Imagine the reduction in the use of diapers, when a mother can simply pour a conversion chemical over a poopy diaper, and serve it the next day as, "leftovers".
 
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captaincranky

TechSpot Addict
How is this any different than eating mushrooms, which are fungus raised mostly in excrement? Nearly all organic farming uses manure as a fertilizer. This is just another kind of farming - it literally says their raising microbes that extract nutrients from feces and then those nutrients are farmed in a reactor.
It's different because, as they say, "it's the thought that counts".

Envision a scenario were a mother is forced to threaten her children sic: "Now eat your recycled poop, or you won't get any refined sugar".
 
J

Joe Blow

If they can sell the public on this idea, they'll be force feeding this crap (pun intended) to more than just astronauts.
 
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wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
If they can sell the public on this idea, they'll be force feeding this crap (pun intended) to more than just astronauts.
Yeah, just think! The life goal of all the super rich will be "to be blasted in to space while eating their own sh!t!" LOL
 

vhfan

TS Enthusiast
Astronauts would be able to go on longer trips and venture deeper into space than ever before.



Nahh, thats OK , we're plenty deep enough as it is , I'm happy right here .
 

Boilerhog146

TS Evangelist
I've changed my mind ,the only way yer getting me on that rocket is at gunpoint.as my french buddy .used to say, Munch mal! sil vous plait! which as he translate .Eat sh!t if you please. my French was bad.funny he could say that and ,nothing ,I say it and a fight would be all most certain.something about the way a newfie says some things I guess.
 

Boilerhog146

TS Evangelist
If they can sell the public on this idea, they'll be force feeding this crap (pun intended) to more than just astronauts.
We could air drop lots of this stuff off to a couple of those countries where everyone is starving.they don't have to know.
Make it taste like fried chicken or Rice.
 

jobeard

TS Ambassador
You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.

attributed to A. Lincoln
 

captaincranky

TechSpot Addict
Did I get a post pulled in this thread this morning, or did my sleep meds kick in and I forgot to hit "send"?? :confused:

(Never mind, found it. Wrong thread). :D

Moving on, poop will never be another "Wheaties breakfast of champions"
Just look at what they did for Bruce Jenner:



Whoops I meant Kaitlin Jenner:

 
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cliffordcooley

TS Redneck
Maybe he was pissed off about not getting the role for superman, and decided to be a superwoman instead.

"Wallach reported that Jenner was being considered for the role of Superman, which ultimately went to Christopher Reeve."