Scientists have developed a new type of ‘cosmic concrete’ made from extraterrestrial soil, which they say could be used to build human habitation on the Moon and Mars.
The material, named ‘StarCrete’, is twice as durable as regular concrete and will eliminate the need to transport expensive building materials from Earth into space.
The team behind the discovery at the University of Manchester had previously developed a solid material that used astronauts’ blood and urine as a binding agent for Martian soil, but it was not widely used. was considered impractical for use in projects.
Starcrete instead uses potato starch and a pinch of salt instead of blood or urine to bind artificial Martian soil. Both of these items are commonly found on space missions.
“Since we will be producing starch as food for astronauts, it makes sense to look at it as a binding agent, unlike human blood,” said Dr Ald Roberts, a research fellow at the Future Biomanufacturing Research Hub and lead researcher on the project. Is. In addition, current building technologies still require many years of development and require considerable energy and additional heavy processing equipment that can add to the cost and complexity of any space mission.’
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According to him: ‘Starcrete does not require any of these and therefore makes the mission easier, cheaper and more feasible. And anyway, astronauts probably wouldn’t want to live in houses made of blood smears and urine.’
Scientists estimate that a 25 kg sack of potatoes would contain enough starch to produce about half a ton of Starcrete, which is equivalent to about 213 bricks.
The salt needed to solidify this material can also be obtained from the tears of astronauts or minerals found on the surface of Mars.
The team has set up a start-up called ‘DecanBio’ to improve and continue testing Starcrete, which they claim can be used as an alternative to conventional concrete for on-the-ground buildings. It has the potential to be used which is also more environmentally sustainable.
The research has been published in the scientific journal ‘Open Engineering’ under the title StarCrete: a starch-based biocomposite for off-world construction.