In a science fiction film with Mark Wahlberg, he helped himself survive on Mars with a dirty input. Is it just fiction? Well, apparently not. We are not sure what the next lunar missions will look like. But everything indicates that shelters are being built there. So you have to think about the right materials. It seems someone had a great idea. How about urine as input in lunar bases?
Disgusting but true
It is covered by a study sponsored by the European Space Agency (ESA). Spanish researchers work together. And it shows the use of urea, the most important organic compound in our urine. It can be added to a mixture of lunar polymers. And it would form a very strong concrete-like building material. The resulting mix output from a 3D printer turned out to be easy to shape. It is strong and maintains its shape with weights that are up to ten times higher than yours.
"The scientific community is particularly impressed. This new recipe is strong compared to other materials. It is also attracted to the fact that we can use what is already on the moon," explains Marlies Arnhof, co-author the study and a member of the ESA Advanced Concepts team. Using only materials available on the moon would reduce the throwing of large amounts of supplies.
The regolith of the moon
The main ingredient would be powdered soil found all over the lunar surface. It is called a regolith. Urea would limit the amount of water required in the recipe. Imagine the future moon inhabitants. The 1.5 liters of liquid waste that a person creates daily could turn out to be a promising by-product. Urea is cheap and readily available. And it helps to make strong building materials for a moon base, "says Marlies.
The idea of using urea for construction is also not that rare. It happens on Earth on an industrial scale. It is widely used by chemical and medical companies as an industrial fertilizer and raw material.
Test, one, two, test
This type of concrete mixed with urea withstands tough spatial conditions such as vacuum and extreme temperatures. The samples were subjected to vacuum and freeze-thaw cycles. They simulate sudden changes in temperature on lunar days and nights. They vary from -171 ° C to 114 ° C.
The initiative can bring valuable results not only here, but also here. "Industry could benefit from sophisticated recipes for refractory inorganic polymers," added the researcher.
The use of urine as input for lunar bases offers many possibilities. Although it sounds very disgusting now.