Currently, there is a problem when it comes to food distribution across the globe. In addressing this problem, members of the UK Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) work in the food industry. The aim is to make use of cellulose particles as one of the things necessary for 3D printing food.
Instead of having 3D printing for novelty purposes, the team of researchers is exerting efforts in making use of advanced food production methods and integrate additive manufacturing. By doing so, this may actually help in addressing the problems across the globe that have to do with food distribution.
You may think that this research is just as simple as putting all ingredients into the 3D printer. Actually, the primary focus of this collaboration is to determine the kind of ink to use that is edible. As what Dr. Jennie Lord, the translator at EPSRC say, the subject of the research is to determine a liquid that can solidify in order to bring up complex formulations necessary in 3D printing. Some possibilities that they are looking at is to bypass water inefficiency and move to dry powder.
Cellulose is one of the materials that researchers are eyeing on because of its potential as building blocks for printable food. Most people are familiar with cellulose as the material that comprises the primary cell wall of green plants. This substance is composed of multiple glucose units in a crystalline structure. Animals with more than one stomach called the ruminants have the ability to digest cellulose. However, human beings do not have that kind of ability. Thus, some people ask how it can make food when they are not even digestive.
According to the University of Nottingham PhD student Sonia Holland, cellulose is the richest polymer and it is natural since it comes from the plant cell walls. Therefore, it is non-toxic and not fermented by bacteria. However, it is not food-safe because its crystalline structure is hard to dissolve. But the great thing is that, researchers can look for various methods, making it soluble.
The best part about this research is that the team is also looking for ways on how to make cellulose edible. Although there are some people who are having second thoughts about this idea, but there is a big possibility that cellulose will be the key component in making food through 3D printers, which can definitely help global problems. However, it still remains as a question if this can also help in eliminating the need for greater pasture areas for cattle.
Since this research is still in its early stages, it is not expected that it can help solve food distribution problems anytime soon. You cannot yet taste nutritious and delicious cellulose printed food. But through this research, we will be able to explore more on the things that 3D printers can do in order to help address the needs all around the globe.
The initial source: Food Quality News