Potato Starch and Dust Could Be Foundation of a Martian Cities
VIVA – Scientists in the UK have developed a new type of concrete that might one day be used to build Martian cities. By combining potato starch with material simulating the dust of Mars or the Moon, they created something much stronger than regular concrete.
This is so-called "StarCrete" made of Martian dust has a compressive strength of 72 megapascals (MPa), which is over twice that of regular concrete. When the material was made with the fake Moon dust it became even stronger, reaching 91 Mpa.
The team from the University of Manchester has been working on how to make concrete with local resources on the Moon and Mars, requiring very little extra material brought from Earth. Their previous work showed that concrete could be made by using the blood or urine of astronauts. For the sake of future explorers, they have to switch on to potatoes.
“Since we will be producing starch as food for astronauts, it made sense to look at that as a binding agent rather than human blood," said a project lead Dr Aled Roberts, Research Fellow at the Future Biomanufacturing Research Hub.
In addition, current building technologies still require years of development and require considerable energy and additional heavy processing equipment which all add to the cost and complexity of the mission. StarCrete does not require any of this thus simplifying the mission and making it cheaper and more feasible, reported from IFL Science site.
"That's not the only consideration. After all, astronauts might not want to live in a house made of scabs and urine," Roberts informed.