By the time space bases are built on the Moon, Mars and somewhere else, we should have developed the appropriate technologies. Their basis will be the production of building materials on site. You can’t bring bricks from the Earth with rockets. Therefore, a number of earthly laboratories and companies are busy inventing technologies and compositions of building materials from local raw materials with the addition of imported ones. Potato starch proved to be a promising addition.
In the recent past, fungal mycelium, as well as the sweat, urine and blood of the colonists, were tried for the role of fastening materials for the production of “space” concrete. Researchers from the University of Manchester have suggested using potato chips with a high starch content and residual traces of moisture. From a bag of chips weighing 25 kg, you can produce almost half a ton of branded StarCrete composition, which is enough to make 213 “space” bricks.
A brick made from a mixture of starch and lunar dust simulant withstood a pressure of 91 MPa. Bricks made from a mixture of blood and dust turned out to be less durable – they withstood compression up to 40 MPa. Ordinary concrete, for comparison, can withstand a pressure of 32 MPa (it must be understood that this is an average value). Additional strength to bricks with the addition of starch was given by the addition of salt to the solution. It can be mineral salt from the surface of the planet and even salt from the tears of astronauts.
Interestingly, there is also a niche on Earth for the use of potato bricks. It is believed that the production of concrete and cement leads to the emission of approximately 8% of greenhouse gases. Growing potatoes and turning them into building material will reduce emissions and increase CO2 uptake from the air while the potatoes are growing in the beds. DeakinBio was created to promote the idea. If the technology finds application on Earth, the developers believe, it will be easier to extend it to use in space.
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