Picture a future where you can easily print health food in your own home. It seems strange now but that future may not be too far ahead with designer and PhD researcher Marin Sawa working on a prototype that shows how microalgae can be grown and digitally printed in one’s home.
Sawa’s Algaerium Bioprinter is a device that explores how microalgae like Chlorella, Spirulina, and Haematococcus can be cultivated and used on a domestic scale. These microalgae are referred to as ‘superfood’ or health food because they are rich in vitamins and minerals. They are also cultivated on an industrial scale and are quite in demand in the global health food market.
Sawa’s project, which takes off from her previous work on microalgae living systems, looks into the possibility of bringing the technology to a smaller scale and creating a future where algae farming becomes a part of urban agriculture.
The Algaerium functions like an ink reservoir containing the microalgae. Different algae strains are selected and the different strains add a variety of colors and create colorful printed patterns.
In collaboration with Imperial College London, Sawa is studying inkjet printing technology that is suitable for algae printing. With the Bioprinter, the idea is for people to house ‘food factories’ in their homes and digitally print health food supplements when they need them.
Sawa’s research also includes looking into the technology to print algal-based energy devices and filtering devices.
This project is part of Sawa’s doctoral research at Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design in London.