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article imageSpace Agency — Human urine could help make concrete on Moon

By Karen Graham     May 8, 2020 in Science
The European Space Agency said on Friday that astronaut urine could become a useful resource for making a robust type of concrete on the Moon.
The space agency says that recent research showed that urea, the main organic compound found in our urine, would make the mixture for lunar concrete more malleable before hardening into a final, sturdy shape for future lunar habitats, reports CTV News Canada.
The main ingredient for making "lunar concrete" will be the powdery soil found on the moon, known as regolith. According to ESA's research, urea can break hydrogen bonds and reduce the viscosity of fluid mixtures, which would limit the amount of water necessary in the recipe.
Lunar soil simulant.
Lunar soil simulant.
“Thanks to future lunar inhabitants, the 1.5 liters (3.2 pints) of liquid waste a person generates each day could become a promising by-product for space exploration,” ESA said in a statement, according to the Associated Press.
Here on Earth, urea is used as an industrial fertilizer and a raw material by chemical and medical companies.
“The hope is that astronaut urine could be essentially used as it is on a future lunar base, with minor adjustments to the water content,” study co-author Marlies Arnhof said in the ESA statement. “This is very practical, and avoids the need to further complicate the sophisticated water recycling systems in space.”
Several tests confirmed that this type of concrete mixed with urea was capable of withstanding harsh...
Several tests confirmed that this type of concrete mixed with urea was capable of withstanding harsh space conditions such as vacuum and extreme temperatures.
Researchers, using a simulated Lunar soil, urine, and a 3D-printer were successful in making Lunar concrete that proved to be stronger and retained good workability. The fresh sample could be easily molded and retained its shape with weights up to 10 times its own on top of it.
“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,” says Arnhof.
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