Moon Buidlings more solid thanks to Urea
2020/02/08 — 3D printing is playing a crucial role in the future space and moon missions of NASA and ESA. It enables materials in space to be either recycled or used locally, including on the moon. In view of the high transport costs in play – it costs around €20,000 to put a kilogram of material into orbit – 3D printing on other planets can certainly make future missions more economical.
But while building materials on Earth are usually mixed with water, future inhabitants of the moon will likely have very limited access to the precious liquid. That’s why scientists from Østfold University College (Norway) and the Advanced Concepts Team of the European Space Agency (ESA) have been working on a mixture for future lunar buildings. In their Aridana study, they are looking at using urea mixed with lunar rock (regolith).
This type of biological secondary use makes sense to the researchers because urea is a component of human urine (amounting to around 1 – 2%) that is available everywhere people live. Compared to the use of polycarboxylate- and naphthalene-based superplasticizers, urea has even proven capable of increasing the strength of the regolith samples.