AstroCrete - Martian Concrete Made from Astronaut blood And Urine
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Astronaut blood and urine can now be used to make Martian concrete called AstroCrete. Building colonies on Mars is a daunting task considering the cost of moving heavy equipment. The estimated cost of transporting a single brick to Mars has been estimated at about US$2 million. Certainly, this can be cut down a lot taking into consideration the recent development with AstroCrete.

Aled Roberts at the University of Manchester, UK, and his colleague’s studies suggest extracting a protein from human blood called serum albumin can be used to bind together simulated Mars soil to produce a concrete-like material. The serum albumin is vital in maintaining the balance of fluids in our body.

The novel material has been termed as AstroCrete, it comes with a compressive strength of as high as 25 MPa (Megapascals). This is almost the same as the 20-32 MPa seen in ordinary concrete.

Further experiments carried out by the scientist suggest incorporating urea, a biological waste product our body produces and excretes in the form of urine, sweat, and tears. This can go on to further strengthen the compressive strength by over 300%. This will make the concrete have a compressive strength of almost 40 MPa, this is stronger than ordinary concrete.

AstroCrete
3D-printed mars biocomposite

According to Dr. Aled Roberts, “Scientists have been trying to develop viable technologies to produce concrete-like materials on the surface of Mars, but we never stopped to think that the answer might be inside us all along.”The scientists claim a team of six astronauts can end up producing over 500kg of high-strength AstroCrete in over two years of space missions on the surface of Mars. Each crew member could produce enough AstroCrete if used as mortar for sandbags or heat-fused regolith bricks to expand the habitat to support additional crew. Thus doubling the housing capacity for each successive mission. Traditionally animal blood was used as a binder for mortar.

Dr. Roberts said, “It is exciting that a major challenge of the space age may have found its solution based on inspirations from medieval technology.”

The scientists in their studies discovered the bonding mechanism and that the blood proteins denature or curdle to form an extended structure with interactions known as “beta-sheets” that tightly holds the material together.

According to Dr. Roberts, “The concept is literally blood-curdling.”

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