The research team noted that bringing enough food and water from Earth to outer space takes up large volumes of space and may even increase the mass and fuel requirement for space crafts. The experts also noted that growing food through hydroponics or other methods would be energy- and water-intensive. To address this, the researchers turned to anaerobic digestion as a means of converting waste products to potential food sources.
"Anaerobic digestion is something we use frequently on Earth for treating waste. It's an efficient way of getting mass treated and recycled. What was novel about our work was taking the nutrients out of that stream and intentionally putting them into a microbial reactor to grow food," Christopher House, professor of geosciences at the Penn State, told Science Daily online.