Space agencies from the U.S., Europe and China have plans to build moon bases. Colonizing the moon is essential for mining exotic materials and establishing a pit stop to Mars.
Moon base construction faces many logistical challenges, especially when it costs $10,000 per 0.45 kg to ship materials.
A team of researchers has a solution and it involves a 3D printer, moon dust, water (from lunar ice) and astronaut urine. They use urea as a plasticizer, to soften the material and make it more pliable before it hardens.
Shima Pilehvar et al./ Journal of Cleaner Production
The mixture is printed into “mud” cylinders which, in tests, supported heavy weights and stood up to wild climate swings.
Shima Pilehvar et al. / Journal of Cleaner Production
Researchers are now looking for ways to extract urea from Astronaut urine, and contemplating if it’s even necessary.
After all, using the water in Astronaut urine could mean less moon ice to harvest and melt down.
The team of scientists from Norway, Spain, the Netherlands and Italy, in cooperation with ESA, have conducted several experiments.
Details are published in the Journal of Cleaner Production.
ESA, Foster and Partners