Space bricks for building lunar bases

(ORDO NEWS) — In a new study, a team of scientists has developed a technology to produce brick-like structures on the lunar surface. The materials for the production of such bricks are lunar soil, bacteria and guar beans used to make resin from them.

These “space bricks” could ultimately be used to build structures for settlers on the lunar surface, the authors note.

“In this work, we used approaches from two different fields of knowledge – biology and mechanical engineering,” said Aloke Kumar, assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the Indian Science Institute and one of the authors of two new studies recently published under this project.

The cost of launching one kilogram of material into space is about 20,000 USD. The process, developed by Kumar and his colleagues, involves the use of urea – which can be produced from human urine – and lunar soil as raw materials for structural materials produced on the moon. This will significantly reduce costs, the authors point out.

Some bacteria are capable of producing minerals as a result of vital processes. Sporosarcina pasteurii produces crystalline calcium carbonate from calcium-containing materials and urea. In their work, Kumar and colleagues mixed lunar soil and bacteria, added sources of calcium and urea, and then also a gum extracted from guar beans to increase the strength of the material by producing calcium carbonate by the bacteria.

The resulting product had significant strength properties and amenable to processing to obtain molded products, the authors noted.

The research has been published in the journals PLOS One and Ceramics International.

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