“Cosmic concrete” made from potato chips, salt and dust can be used to build houses on mars

twice as strong as ordinary blocks

Scientists from the University of Manchester have modeled cosmic concrete brick through the combination of potato chips, salt and alien dust. The resulting blocks are strong and sturdy enough to survive and be used Architecture and Residences on Marsand even on the moonbased on the team’s preliminary testing.

The material, called “StarCrete,” first mixes simulated Martian soil that the scientists invented with potato starch made from dehydrated potatoes – hence the potato chips – and a pinch of salt. The result is a brick twice as strong as ordinary concrete, perfect for construction work in extraterrestrial environments.

The cosmic concrete builds on previous work by the scientists, in which they used astronauts’ blood and urine as binders. While the resulting material was also sturdy, the process, which regularly required blood to produce bricks for architectural use, was its downside, especially when astronauts have to move around and work in an environment as hostile as outer space, where the opportunities are limited.

cosmic concrete
Images courtesy of Dr. Aled Roberts and the University of Manchester

First cosmic concrete of blood and urine

The scientists, led by dr Aled RobertsResearch Fellows at the University of Manchester’s Future Biomanufacturing Research Hub see potato starch as a more viable option. “Since we will be producing starches for food for astronauts, it made sense to think of them as binding agents rather than human blood. Also, current construction technologies still take many years to develop and require large amounts of energy and additional heavy processing equipment, all of which increase the cost and complexity of a mission. he says.

He adds that “StarCrete doesn’t need any of that and therefore simplifies the mission and makes it cheaper and more viable. And besides, astronauts probably don’t want to live in houses made of crusts and urine!’ The team calculates that one sack of potato chips contains enough starch to make over 213 StarCrete blocks. Throw into the mixture an ordinary salt or magnesium chloride, which can be obtained from the surface of Mars or from the tears of astronauts, as researchers say, the cosmic concrete is said to be much more stable.

dr Roberts and his team are studying the use of the cosmic concrete in real-world environments and construction to fully test its strength. They recently founded a start-up company, DeakinBio, which aims to explore ways to improve StarCrete so that it can also be used in a terrestrial environment.

cosmic concrete
dr Aled Roberts

cosmic concrete
Deakin organic tiles and bricks

Project info:

Surname: StarCrete

senior researcher: dr Aled Roberts

Institution: University of Manchester

Matthew Burgos | design boom

March 18, 2023


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