Scientists are exploring the possibility of using astronauts’ urine to help build the first lunar base,media reported. Using the resources collected from the moon, coupled with the help of astronauts, it is hoped that these lunar settlers will reduce the high cost of transporting building materials from Earth. In 1969, through the Apollo 11 mission, humans finally left their footprints on Earth’s satellites, but the stay there was very short.
Decades later, humans are finally preparing to create a semi-permanent habitat on the moon’s surface, perhaps with the help of astronauts urinating — or rather, urea contained in urine.
But why choose to do so? The reason is that sending materialinto into space can be costly and logistically expensive. The cost of transporting 0.45 kg from the Earth’s surface to orbit is about $10,000, so it is conceivable that it would be impossible to transport all the equipment and materials needed for construction to the moon. To this end, scientists are exploring other ways.
Many studies have begun to explore the possibility of using robotic labor to print concrete-like structures from the lunar soil, also known as weathering layers.
The creation of such a sanctuary on the moon could help explorers avoid vacuum environments, high levels of radiation, extreme temperature and temperature fluctuations, micrometeorite impacts that wash the moon’s surface, and so on.
Now, a team of international scientists is conducting a new study that is beginning to look at whether another resource — human urine — could be used to make more practical lunar building materials.
The team examined whether urea in urine could be used as a plasticizer for a 3D-printed mixture on the lunar surface. Plasticizerisis is essentially an additive that can be added to the concrete mixture to soften the mixture. The essence of this process is that urea causes hydrogen bonds to break the chain and reduce the viscosity of the substance of its action.
As part of the study, the researchers printed a series of “mud” tubes using 3D printing technology, which were made from a mixture of lunar weathering materials, urea or other plasticizers made by the European Space Agency.
As a result, the researchers found that tubes printed with urea as a plasticizer, though not very aesthetically pleasing, were able to withstand very heavy loads and largely maintain the stability of the material. After being heated to 80 degrees C, the researchers tested the resistance of the tube and found that the resistance of the tube increased after eight freeze-thaw cycles similar to changes in the temperature of the lunar surface.
Sample U is made of urea as a plasticizer, while sample N is printed with a more common additive, radon.
The researchers stress that they need to conduct further research to find the ideal material for building the first lunar habitat.
The study was published in Journal of Cleaner Production.