Researchers have developed a very strong cosmic concrete that could be used to build buildings on Mars. This concrete mixes the blood, urine and sweat of astronauts with Martian dust.
One of the biggest challenges of the colonization of Mars that Elon Musk foresees for 2050 is the construction of this colony. You simply cannot send bricks from Earth to Mars at reasonable costs. Therefore, researchers have found a way to make concrete using materials available on the red planet. In this case, these materials are in particular the blood, urine and sweat of astronauts.
AstroCrete samples – Credit: Dr. Aled Roberts
A new study published in the journal Materials Today Bio describes the fabrication of “ultra-hard cosmic concrete” to build “affordable homes in space.” Researchers at the University of Manchester called this particular AstroCrete. In fact, researchers already mentioned the possibility of using astronauts’ urine to build a base on the Moon last year.
Proteins in blood plasma and urea in urine and sweat create cosmic concrete
AstroCrete is concrete made up of Martian dust and the blood, urine and sweat of astronauts. The dust that covers the surface of the Moon and Mars is called regolith. In fact, ISS astronauts last month received a 3D printer that runs on moondust to print parts.
Rather than mixing regolith with water to create a more traditional concrete, the researchers also want to include proteins from blood plasma and urea from urine and sweat. This new mixture makes it possible to obtain an “ultra-hard” concrete, much more resistant than the concrete used on Earth. A sample of AstroCrete created by the astronauts had a compressive strength of 40 MPa. In comparison, ordinary concrete has a strength of between 20 and 32 MPa.
In addition, the researchers calculated that a team of 6 people on Mars could produce more than 500 kg of AstroCrete in 2 years. Each crew member could produce enough AstroCrete to allow for the arrival of an additional person. Thus, the number of available homes would double for each mission. As Dr. Roberts, who worked on the study, stated, “It is fascinating that a great challenge of the space age was able to find its solution based on the inspirations of medieval technology.” In fact, animal blood was used to increase mortar adherence in the Middle Ages.