Astronauts at the International Space Station (ISS) can recycle or plastic recycling into cutlery or other items in space. How to?
The NASA contractor sent a machine made specifically to ISS that can melt plastic debris into ink for 3D printers. The plastic will be broken down into a ‘space cement mixture,’ which converts old plastic into bio-ink 3D printing so that it can be reused.
Using pre-existing blueprint designs, astronauts can use the device to print tools and parts, including spanners, cutting tools, and cable hooks.
Made In Space, which created the Recycler, will send its hardware into orbit above the Cygnus spacecraft. The aircraft will send on 2 November.
How plastic recycling works in space
“The Recycler will complete the life cycle of plastic sustainability in orbit by giving astronauts the ability to convert plastic and waste packaging, as well as objects previously made by 3D printers into raw materials for printer reuse,” Made In Space, said on his website, quoted from the Daily Mail, Tuesday (10/29/2019).
Made In Space has partnered with Brazilian petrochemical company Braskem to make the device. This device is able to recycle all types of green polyethylene, a biodegradable plastic made by processing ethanol from sugar cane. The method is by melting the plastic into a resin which can then be reused.
Green PE is used as a filament for 3D printers at the ISS named Additive Manufacturing Facility (AMF), which was also developed by Made In Space. Through the creation of local equipment to the ISS, space plastic recycling has the ability to reduce shipping missions from Earth and cut costs.
According to Made In Space, as much as 30 percent of the parts at ISS can be replaced by-products that have been produced in 3D printers. Other new equipment that will be sent to ISS next week includes Zero-G Oven, which will check the process of baking food in microgravity.
Successful oven testing can result in freshly baked foods such as cakes prepared on the spaceship for future exploration. Foods that are baked in a healthy oven can not only provide a variety of nutritious foods but also benefit psychological and physiological astronauts.