Before understand how 3D printing and Biofuel can come together to create an impactful product, let’s look at them individually.
Although 3D printing has been around for 40 years, it is now developing some traction. 3D printing uses various materials such as plastic or metal; With the material, the 3D printing machine can build an actual product from the ground up. The medical field is using this revolutionary technology to create prosthetic limbs and other body parts for patients. The automotive industry uses this technology to build spare parts for vehicles that are no longer in commission. This type of technology is growing in other sectors and fields of construction.
Biofuel is renewable energy from living materials such as algae that can grow indoors or outdoor on an artificial pond. Scientists have perfected growing the algae but are not yet ready to mass-produce it as biofuel. It is anticipated that scientists will not have biofuel prepared for at least 30 years.
How do these two seemingly unrelated things work together? 3D printing machines mimic the construction of coral reefs; Calcium carbonate is the reefs’ building block. These reefs are used as a home for the algae to grow and get the light it needs for photosynthesis. These single-cell organisms thrive in the water and use sunlight and carbon dioxide to help create energy.
Once the algae have grown and are divided enough to fill a pond, they are deprived of proper nutrients. Their natural reaction is to store the energy they have as fat. It’s this fat that manufacturers use to make the renewable fuel it takes to drive a car or power a building. Exxon is one of those innovative companies that are making strides toward biofuel to replace gas and diesel.
As scientists work to find a solution to sustainable energy, they are looking at various options. Wind and solar power are popular now, but other renewable energy sources will have to emerge to meet future demands. Combining the 3D printing of coral reef structures to house and grow algae to create biofuel is emerging. This process is an innovative way to develop renewable energy, and by combining all three types of resources, perhaps we can positively impact this planet.