NASA Commissions 3D Food Printer That Could One Day Solve World Hunger

By Douglas K. Barclay , May 21, 2013 01:14 PM EDT

Gone are the days when NASA's finest were relegated to eating dehydrated food wrapped in tightly sealed packets. In a recent video, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield demonstrated how astronauts eat in space. In Hadfield's video, he made a very simple peanut butter and jelly on a tortilla. According to NASA, food consumption in space may soon be a very different experience. Following the recent craze surrounding the onset and application of the 3D printer, NASA has commissioned a 3D printer capable of printing food for astronauts. Mechanical engineer Anjan Contractor has been awarded a grant to experiment with printing edible food for astronauts in space. 

The $125,000 grant from NASA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR), would allow astronauts to eat and store food with greater efficiency in space. If this item was a success, it could have enormous dividends around the globe in combatting hunger. The first item to be tested by the 3D printer? America's favorite food; pizza. Contractor believes that an efficiently priced and produced series of powders and oils can be used to "print" healthy and edible meals. These items, which would contain the necessary carbohydrates and proteins needed to survive, could have a shelf life of up to 30 years.

The printer would first create a layer of dough that could begin to cook on a heated manual, while adding layers of "sauce" and "cheese" created from the stored powders and oils. According to, Contractor envisions his model to have an impact on global hunger. Contractor notes that "the way we are working on it is, all the carbs, proteins and macro and micro nutrients are in powder form. We take moisture out, and in that form it will last maybe 30 years." 

It remains to be seen how successful this invention would be in practice, however in theory, its possible implications on both the national and global scale could be huge. Over 870 million people across the globe do not get enough food to eat. History will be the judge, however the $125,000 provided by NASA, could be the stepping stone to save an issue that impacts people across the globe

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