Friday, July 7, 2017

3D Printed Yeast - Brew a glass at a time

I have been interested in 3D printing and all it ramifications for several years. I've even written about it in the Manufacturing Engineering Handbook (see Chapter 15) and have attended national conferences that had me spellbound. 

Today, I came across a breakthrough that everyone can get behind - 3D printed yeast in a tiny lattice bioreactor that keep fermenting glucose forever! (At least they have been going for months and months with no slowing down.)

Dr. Alshakim Nelson and his lab group in the Chemistry dept. at the University of Washington have created ethanol from the 3D printed yeast-infused 1 cm structures and plan to try other substances like proteins or even drugs. 

The question to run on the heels of this discovery is, "Can yeast added to a hydrogel cube be put into fruit juice and it will convert the sugar in the drink to alcohol?" You could brew your own alcoholic beverages in a matter of hours or overnight! For lightweight drinkers like me, you could stop the process at just the alcohol level you want. Science win! And who says the basic sciences don't work for the common good? Go Science!