Scientists have developed a special concrete using human blood and urine that could help astronauts build human colonies on Mars.
This is according to a study published in Materials Today Bio. The special concrete has been developed by researchers at the University of Manchester using extra-terrestrial dust as well as a protein from the human blood, fused with a compound from urine, sweat or tears.
Sending a single brick of concrete on Mars would cost a whopping $2 million, meaning engineers would have to get creative with the materials that they’d have in their hands on Mars.
The human blood plasma has a protein dubbed human serum albumin that acts as a binder for simulated Moon or Mars dust to create a concrete-like material. The end material dubbed AstroCrete had strengths of 25MPa (Megapascals) — similar to the concrete we use today (ranging from 20MPa to 32MPa).
However, researchers discovered that by adding urea to the mix — essentially a biological waste product released by the body in urine, sweat and tears — could increase this aforementioned strength by a whopping 300 percent — possessing a compressive strength of almost 40 MPa.
This works as the blood proteins denature, or “curdle,” to form an extended structure with interactions known as “beta-sheets” that hold on to the material together.
Dr Aled Roberts, from The University of Manchester, explains, “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.”
According to the scientists, over 500 kilograms of high-strength AstroCrete can be produced on a two-year Mars mission by a crew of six astronauts. If used in the form of a mortar for sandbags or heat-fused regolith bricks, each crew member could produce enough AstroCrete to expand the habitat for supporting an additional crew member, doubling the housing available.
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