Astronaut blood can be used to make concrete on Mars, scientists say – National
Human colonies on Mars can – and probably should – be built using the blood, sweat and tears of the astronauts who build them.
So say scientists at the University of Manchester, who say they’ve found a brilliant and bloody way to solve the costly challenge of sending building materials to Mars.
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Water is scarce on Mars and it costs $ 2 million to send a single brick to the Red Planet, according to estimates. But astronauts can simply make their own concrete on site using Martian dust and their own blood, according to findings published this month in the journal. Today Organic Materials.
And that’s not a theoretical thing. According to the study, scientists have already made a concrete-like substance called “AstroCrete” using human blood and synthetic regolith, which is the scientific term for the soil on Mars and the Moon.
The blend works with human serum albumin, a common protein found in human blood plasma. The protein curdles when dehydrated, creating a powerful binding agent that collects dust.
The mixture of blood and dust alone is equivalent to concrete, but researchers say it becomes even stronger when human urea is added to the mixture. This golden touch – urea comes from sweat, tears, and urine – increases AstroCrete’s strength by 300%.
The AstroCrete itself is a dull shade of brown, but it can be shaped into any shape and can even be used in 3D printing, according to the study.
The paper didn’t say anything about the smell, but the AstroCrete structures would likely protect a sealed inner shell made of something else, so that one wouldn’t be in direct contact with the bricks of piss and blood. Their main task, according to the newspaper, would be to prevent radiation and violent Martian dust storms from entering.
“Scientists have tried to develop viable technologies to produce concrete-like materials on the surface of Mars, but we never stopped thinking that the answer might be in us from the start,” said Aled Roberts in a communicated. Manchester University statement. “It is fascinating that a major challenge of the space age was able to find its solution by drawing inspiration from the inspirations of medieval technology. “
“The concept is literally bloodcurdling,” said Roberts.
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Roberts and his team say animal blood could eventually replace human blood in Martian construction projects, but that would only happen after sending cows to Mars.
In the meantime, the researchers say more research is needed to determine exactly how much blood an astronaut can donate without tipping.
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On earth, blood donors usually donate a little less than half a liter in one session.
Initial estimates from researchers suggest that an astronaut could potentially donate enough blood to make a “standard red clay brick” in a month. This assumes that they donate a liter of blood twice a week.
The material could go much further if used as a mortar between the sandbags. In this case, an astronaut could potentially produce enough AstroCrete to make room for a second astronaut during a mission.
They also estimate that six astronauts on a two-year mission to Mars could produce around 500 kilograms of building materials during that time.
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The University of Manchester team looked at several other construction ideas involving human byproducts on Mars, in addition to their AstroCrete experiment.
One of those ideas involved using dust, urine, feces, and blood to create slightly crapper versions of common metal tools.
“Unfortunately, due to health and safety concerns, we were unable to explore (this concept) in this study,” they wrote.
Too bad, eh?
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