Scientists create “interstellar concrete” twice the strength of ordinary concrete, can be used to build houses on Mars

Scientists create “interstellar concrete” twice the strength of ordinary concrete, can be used to build houses on Mars

scientists at the University of Manchester have invented a new material called “StarCrete”, which is made of outer space dust, potato starch and a little salt, which can be used on Mars. build houses on.

Currently, building infrastructure in space is prohibitively expensive and difficult to achieve. Future space construction will need to rely on simple materials that are readily available to astronauts, and “interstellar concrete” offers a possible solution. 

The scientists behind the invention used simulated Martian soil mixed with potato starch and a pinch of salt to create the material, which is twice as strong as regular concrete and ideal for construction work in the outer space environment.

In the study, published in the journal Open Engineering, the team demonstrated that ordinary potato starch can act as a binder when mixed with simulated Martian dust, producing a concrete-like material. When tested, Interstellar Concrete had a compressive strength of 72 megapascals (MPa), more than double the 32 MPa found in ordinary concrete. Star-shaped concrete made from moondust is even stronger, exceeding 91 MPa.

The work is an improvement on previous work by the same team, which used astronauts’ blood and urine as adhesives. While the resulting material has a compressive strength of about 40 megapascals, which is better than normal concrete, it has the obvious disadvantage of requiring regular use of blood. This was considered less feasible than using potato starch when operating in a harsh environment like space.

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The team calculated that one bag (25 kilograms) of dehydrated potatoes (chips) contained enough starch to create nearly half a ton of “interstellar concrete,” an amount equivalent to 213 bricks. For reference, it takes about 7,500 bricks to build a three-bedroom house. In addition, they found that a common salt — magnesium chloride — can significantly increase the strength of “interstellar concrete.” Magnesium chloride can be obtained from the surface of Mars or from the tears of astronauts.

The next step in this project is to transfer the “interstellar concrete” from the laboratory to the application scene. Dr Roberts and his team have recently launched a start-up company, DeakinBio, which is exploring ways to improve “interstellar concrete” so that it can also be used in Earth’s environment.

If used on Earth, “interstellar concrete” could offer a greener alternative to conventional concrete. Cement and concrete are responsible for around 8% of global CO2 emissions because their manufacturing process requires very high firing temperatures and energy. Interstellar concrete, on the other hand, can be made in a regular oven or microwave at normal “home baking” temperatures, thus reducing the energy costs of production.