University of Calgary (Calgary)
Astro Plastic – a start-to-finish integrated system that can be used in space to generate items useful to astronauts
|Team Grade Level:||University|
|STEM Focus:||Synthetic Biology|
Governments and private enterprises alike are gearing up for exploration and colonization of Mars. Two ecological and economical challenges to interplanetary travel arise: the sustainable management of waste produced on a spaceship and the astronomical cost of shipping materials to space. The iGEM Calgary 2017 team used genetically engineered E. coli (expressing genes from Ralstonia eutropha and Pseudomonas aeruginosa) to turn human waste into poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) (PHB), a bioplastic. Our engineered E. coli also secrete the PHB they produce, which improves the efficiency of the system. Our project is a start-to-finish integrated system that can be used in space to generate items useful to astronauts during early Mars missions. This will solve the problem of waste management by upcycling solid human waste into a usable product. It will also reduce astronautical costs, as fuel typically used to ship materials to space can be saved.
iGEM Medal Achieved: Gold