Astronaut urine ideal for building on moon
Paris, May 8 (efe-epa).- The urine of astronauts has proven to be an ideal compound for making concrete to build a space station on the Moon, according to a study by the European Space Agency (ESA) published Friday.
According to the report, urea, the main organic compound of urine, “would make the mixture for lunar concrete more malleable before hardening into a final, sturdy shape for future lunar habitats,” ESA said in a statement.
“The science community is particularly impressed by the high strength of this new recipe compared to other materials, but also attracted by the fact that we could use what’s already on the Moon,” Marlies Arnhof, co-author of the study from ESA’s Advanced Concepts Team.
When adding urine to a geopolymer mix, a material that is similar to concrete, the human secretion was more effective than other common plasticizers such as naphthalene or polycarboxylate and reduced the need for water.
Researchers used a 3D printer for creating models and found that the urine mixture was more resistant and malleable than others.
According to the report, samples could be moulded with ease and maintained their shape well whilst being able to support a weight 10 times larger than its own.
At the same time, this mixture would reduce shipments from Earth of materials when building settlements on the Moon, since it would take advantage of elements found on the satellite.
The primary compound would be lunar regolith, soil from the Moon’s surface, to which urea would be added as a superplasticizer, which would limit the amount of water needed for the recipe.
A person generates approximately 1.5 litres of liquid waste a day.
“Urea is cheap and readily available, but also helps making strong construction material for a Moon base,” Arnhof added.
Researchers think that urea is capable of breaking hydrogen bonds and reducing the viscosity of fluid mixtures and, in addition, it contains calcium minerals that help the setting process.