NewsMars colonization: Concrete is to be made from blood...

Mars colonization: Concrete is to be made from blood and urine

Transporting materials to Mars is expensive. Anyone traveling there would have to use many of the resources available there. That seems possible.

Manchester – Exploring Mars * and living on the red planet – this is the dream of many people who are involved in astronomy * or space travel *. Above all Elon Musk *: The billionaire founded his space company SpaceX * with the aim of making humanity “multiplanetar”.

If Musk has its way, people should live on several planets in the future and colonize the neighboring planet on earth first. But there is still a long and arduous road to Mars. Not only because there are currently no spaceships that can transport people to the red planet, but also because Mars is not a livable environment for people.

Life on Mars: Building a colony seems immeasurably expensive

In addition, transporting material to Mars would be very expensive. As early as 2017, experts came to the conclusion that it would cost around 1.7 million euros to transport a single brick to the red planet. That makes building a Martian colony seem immeasurably expensive.

But there has long been research into ways of using the resources on site on Mars or the moon instead of transporting things from Earth to space. In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) is the name of the field in which the US space organization Nasa and its European counterpart Esa are already active.

Mars travelers could make concrete from blood, urine, sweat and tears

Researchers at the University of Manchester are also thinking about how to use the resources available on Mars. In doing so, they focused on the question of how concrete can be produced on Mars – and only with the materials that are already available. In their study, which they published in the journal Materials Today Bio, they describe how they produced a concrete-like material. In addition to simulated material from the surface of the moon or Mars, mainly something that humans have to contribute themselves was used: blood, sweat, urine and tears.

Beton, entstanden aus simuliertem Mars-Material (links) bzw. Mond-Material und menschlichen „Zugaben“: Albumin aus dem menschlichen Blut und Urea aus Schweiß, Tränen oder Urin.


Concrete, created from simulated Mars material (left) or moon material and human “additions”: albumin from human blood and urea from sweat, tears or urine.

In their specialist article, the research group shows that albumin, a protein from human blood plasma, is suitable as a binding agent for simulated lunar or Martian dust. A concrete-like material was created that bears the name AstroCrete (derived from the English “concrete” for concrete). This AstroCrete has a strength of up to 25 megapascals (MPa), similar to normal concrete, which is 20 to 32 MPa. By adding urea – a metabolic breakdown product found in urine, sweat and tears – the scientists developed AstroCrete with a strength of up to 40 MPa.

Mars: How to build on the red planet

Aled Roberts, one of the researchers on the project, is delighted with the result: “Scientists have tried to develop workable technologies to produce concrete-like materials on the surface of the Mar, but we have never stopped thinking that the answer might lie within ourselves . “The research team assumes that a crew of six can produce more than 500 kilograms of AstroCrete on Mars within two years. If this Mars concrete were used as mortar for sandbags or building blocks made of Mars rock, each crew member could enlarge the dwelling on Mars so that one more person could be accommodated there – each crew could therefore double the number of accommodations.

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The Manchester researchers also examined the underlying binding mechanism and found that the blood proteins denature or “clot” to form an extended structure that can hold the material tightly together. “The concept literally makes the blood clot,” explains Roberts.

The European space agency Esa also recently carried out a study with human urea and found that it can be used as a plasticizer to make concrete made from lunar rocks malleable. With its “Perseverance” rover, NASA recently demonstrated that oxygen can be produced on Mars *. For this purpose, the “Moxie” instrument (Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment) extracted oxygen from the thin atmosphere of the red planet. (tab) * is an offer from IPPEN.MEDIA.

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