When combined with other materials, it makes surprisingly strong bricks.
For all the glitzy depictions of future Mars civilizations, there’s one glaring problem:
How do we even begin to build a city on Mars?
Transporting a single brick from Earth to Mars is estimated to cost as much as 2 million dollars.
Imagine what it’d cost to build a research station — or just a modest space to sleep.
But they likely won’t make the same bricks, stones, or concrete we build with on Earth.
Roberts A., et. al. / Materials Today Bio
A team of researchers from the University of Manchester has an unorthodox solution: Creating a concrete-like material out of dust and human biomaterials.
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“Human biomaterials” in this case means extracting proteins from human blood plasma, and compounds from urine, tears, and sweat.
When mixed with Martian dust, the result is a surprisingly strong, earth-brown material that can be molded and even 3D printed into shapes.
The recipe is outlined in a September 10 report in the journal Materials Today Bio.
Aled Roberts, the study’s lead author, tells Inverse that this technique doesn’t require any heavy equipment — freeing astronauts up to take other critical items on their journeys to Mars.
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But extracting biofluids like blood is no easy feat — you need a safe, controlled environment.
“The main potential sanitary issue I foresee is the risk of infections from removing blood from the body, taking the plasma, and putting the blood cells back in the body.”
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But Roberts believes this technique will help grow human colonies on Mars by giving them a way to expand their habitat.
His team calculates that a single human on Mars could potentially make enough building material from their bodily waste to support another person after 6 years.
“This could then be repeated, potentially doubling the size of the colony every 72 months in a relatively efficient way.”
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So if you do make it to Mars one day, you might be expected to help construct buildings from your own blood, sweat, and tears — literally.