A group of fans from the University of Manchester proposed an innovative but unexpected way to create structures for any future colony of Mars: mixing the body fluids of the first colonists with Martian soil to create heavy-duty concrete.
The method published in the journal Materials Today Bio, reflects the difficulties and cost of transporting building materials over vast interplanetary distances that could be involved in any future settlement project on Mars.
Transporting building materials from Earth to Mars would be extremely costly – estimated at $ 2 million per brick, as well as a significant increase in the logistical complexity of any mission. The obvious solution would be to create structures from materials that are already present on the surface of Mars, a technique known as in place resource use (or ISRU).
“Scientists have tried to develop viable technologies for the production of concrete-like materials on the surface of Mars, but we have never stopped thinking that the answer may be inside us,” said Dr. Aled Roberts of the University of Manchester and co-author of the project. – said the author in a press release from the University of Manchester.
Mars lacks loose rock and dust on its surface (a material commonly known as regolith), and this can easily be used as an ingredient to create concrete. Water is also present on the Red Planet, and although it is not available, it does not go beyond the possibility that it can eventually be released from under the surface and used to make building materials, as well as to support the colonists.
The authors studied the use of a protein called human serum albumin (HSA), which is present in blood plasma, as a binder that needs to be mixed with regolith to create what bofins have been described as extraterrestrial regolith biocomposites or ERBs. The results are impressive, as noted in the document:
Using a simple manufacturing strategy, HSA-based ERBs were fabricated that demonstrated compressive strengths up to 25.0 MPa. [mega pascals]. For comparison, standard concrete usually has a compressive strength of 20 to 32 MPa.
Even more useful, other human excretions proved to be just as useful in the process:
The inclusion of urea, which can be removed from the urine, sweat or tears of astronauts, can in some cases further increase the compressive strength by more than 300%, with the most effective composition having an average compressive strength of 39.7 MPa.
“The mixture does contain about 70% water, but this water can be recovered,” said Dr. Roberts. Register. “Essentially, the curing process is due to the drying of the materials, so if you dry them in such a way that you can re-condense the water, you can recover it. This is important because water is a precious resource. On Mars.”
This recovery process is very important and will be one of the drivers of building structures. Undoubtedly, water will be delivered from the Earth, but it will be limited, because it is also extremely heavy and cumbersome. It also cannot be left lying around, as it would be in the form of ice without help most of the time on the surface of Mars, while in liquid form it evaporates very quickly due to the thin atmosphere of Mars.
Therefore, settlers will have to build structures to maintain a stable climate in which water can be retained by liquid, prevent it from evaporating, and potentially recover as a result of construction work.
Martian brick bricks have amazing strength due to a chemical process in which proteins in the blood are reorganized into a “tightly bound hydrogen, supramolecular network of β-sheets-similar to the mechanism of cobweb silk adhesion”, which led to exo- Architecture suggests that HSA-ERB -printing. They also suggested that stocks of synthetic spider silk and the bovine equivalent of human blood protein HSA could also be transferred to the mission to provide a quick starter pack to begin construction.
One point that came to mind was the possibility that the use of human body fluids meant that astronauts could be exploited in a hurry to build the first human settlements on Mars. Although most countries flying in space would consider crew safety a priority, there may be situations where, under extreme conditions, political considerations could take precedence over crew safety and individuals could be asked to give more than they could safely. Dr. Roberts hopes in this regard, as he believes it will eventually be counterproductive.
“I imagine that the health and safety of astronauts will be a top priority for any space mission, so I do not imagine that this technique is overused for the rapid expansion of the environment,” he said.
“If this technique is overused and negatively affects the health of the crew, it will be a disaster. However, the purpose of building buildings with thick walls and ceilings – to protect the health and safety of astronauts (from radiation and meteor showers) – so somewhere it was necessary “If they are too careful and do not use technology enough, a solar flare or a meteorite impact can do much more damage,” he added.
At this stage we are Fr. Register officially propose that this technique be now known as Churchill’s method, as it offers nothing but blood, soil, tears and sweat. We freely admit that Churchill did not mention urine in his famous speech on May 13, 1940, but we believe that this is implied by the assumption that he was often angry, and perhaps it was when he gave it. .
Dr. Roberts told us that the University of Manchester team was called AstroCrete, but he kindly added, “Please feel free to use the Churchill link.” ®