British scientists from the University of Manchester have developed a concrete-like material from extraterrestrial dust, as well as blood, sweat and even the tears of astronauts. Details of the development are published in Materials Today Bio.
The cost of delivering one brick to Mars exceeds $2 million. The plans of earthlings to study and colonize the Red Planet require new ideas for the construction of shelter houses on Mars.
Scientists from the University of Manchester have developed a new concrete-like building material. It is based on Martian dust, and the bonding material is various secretions of astronauts, for example, blood, sweat and even tears. British scientists drew inspiration from ancient building techniques. Then animal blood was added to the mortar as a binder. For example, pig blood regulated the growth of calcium carbonate crystals. One study described this ancient technology as “one of the most important technological inventions in the history of Chinese architecture.”
In the new work, scientists have found that a common protein from human blood plasma – serum albumin – can act as a binder for simulated lunar or Martian dust. The result is a material similar to concrete – AstroCrete. Its compressive strength reached 25 MPa (megapascals), almost like that of ordinary concrete (20–32 MPa). This material also includes urea, a biological waste that the body produces and excretes in urine, sweat and tears. It further increased the compressive strength by 300%.
It turned out that 500 kg of high-strength AstroCrete can be produced by six astronauts in a two-year mission to Mars.