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Creating Stronger Structures on Mars with Space Concrete Made from Starch and Salt

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Scientists have created a new type of “space concrete” from earth dust that they say could be used to build housing on the Moon and Mars.

The StarCrete material was developed by the AstroCrete team, the same group of scientists at the University of Manchester that had previously proposed building extraterrestrial homes from human blood protein combined with a mix of astronauts’ urine, sweat or tears. .

This material, called StarCrete, has a strength of 72 megapascals (MPa), while conventional concrete has a strength of 32 MPa.

— Interesting Engineering (@IntEngineering) March 17, 2023

Scientists in Manchester have created a new material dubbed StarCrete, which is made up of extraterrestrial dust, potato starch and a pinch of salt and could be used to build homes on Mars. https://t.co/z68G5D5PXW via @techxplore_com

– Shahriyar Gurgi (@Shahriyar Gourgi) March 17, 2023

Scientists say StarCrete, which is twice as strong as conventional concrete, will eliminate the need for the complex and costly delivery of tons of material from Earth to the outside worlds.

And unlike previously proposed concrete, StarCrete’s new material uses potato starch and a pinch of salt, commonly used on space missions, to bind artificial Martian dust.

Dr. Old Roberts, Future Biomanufacturing Research Hub Fellow and Principal Investigator on the project, said: “Since we will be producing starch as food for astronauts, it makes sense to think of it as a binder rather than human blood. , modern construction technologies require many years of development. The development requires significant power and additional heavy processing equipment, which increases the cost and complexity of the task.

He continued, “StarCrete doesn’t need any of that, so it makes it easier, cheaper, and more manageable. And anyway, astronauts probably don’t want to live in houses made of blood and urine.”

Scientists have calculated that a 25-kilogram bag of potato chips contains enough starch to produce about half a ton of StarCrete, which is about 213 bricks.

The salt needed to strengthen the material can also be obtained from the tears of astronauts or from vehicles on the surface of Mars.

The team created a startup called DeakinBio to further improve and test StarCrete, which they claim can be used to build buildings on Earth as a more sustainable alternative to conventional concrete.

The study was revealed in the article “StarCrete: A Starch-Based Biocomposite for Construction Outside the World” published in the journal Open Engineering.

Source: Independent

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