According to IISc, a team of researchers from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) have developed a sustainable process for creating brick-like structures on the face. moon.
It mines lunar soil, and uses bacteria and guar beans to reinforce the soil into bearing structures, Bengaluru-based IISc said in a statement.
These space bricks could eventually be used to assemble structures for the lunar surface habitation, the researchers said.
Aloke Kumar, an assistant professor at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, IISc, is one of the authors of two studies recently published in the journals̵7; ‘Ceramics International’ and ” PLOS One ”.
Space exploration has grown exponentially in the last century.
With resources on Earth rapidly depleting, scientists are only intensifying their efforts to inhabit the moon and possibly other planets.
According to the statement, the cost to send a pound of material into space is about Rs 7.5 lakh.
The process developed by the IISc and ISRO team uses urea that can be obtained from human urine and lunar soil as raw materials for construction on the lunar surface.
This significantly reduces overall spending. This process also has lower carbon footprint as it uses guar gum instead of cement for support.
It can also be mined for sustainable bricks on Earth.
Some microorganisms are able to produce minerals through metabolism.
One such bacterium, called “ Sporosarcina pasteurii ” creates crystals of calcium carbonate through a metabolic pathway known as the urea breakdown cycle: it uses urea and calcium to form crystals. This may be a byproduct of this road.
“Living organisms have been involved in such mineral precipitation since the dawn of the Cambrian, and modern science has found a way to use them,” says Kumar.
To exploit this possibility, Mr. Kumar and colleagues at IISc collaborated with the ISRO scientists Arjun Dey and I Venugopal. They first mixed the bacteria with a small mixture of lunar soil, then added the necessary source of urea and calcium along with locally sourced guar bean gum.
The guar gum is added to increase the durability of the material by acting as a support for carbonate precipitation.
The statement states that the final product obtained after a few days of incubation has considerable durability and machinability.
“Our material can be fabricated into any free-form shape using a simple lathe. This is very convenient as this completely avoids the need for a dedicated mold, a common problem when trying to make many different shapes by casting.
Koushik Viswanathan, Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, IISc, another author, explains that this ability can also be exploited to create complex, interlocking structures for construction on the moon without add fastening mechanism.
PLOSOnestudy, founded by Rashmi Dikshit, a DBT-BioCARe member at IISc, has also studied the use of other locally available soil microbes in place of “ S.pasteurii ”.
After testing different soil samples in Bengaluru, the researchers found an ideal candidate with similar properties: “ Bacillus velezensis ”.
A single bottle of “ S.pasteurii ” can cost Rs 50,000; ” B. On the other hand, ‘velezensis’ is about ten times cheaper, the researchers say.
“We have a long way to go before we consider extraterrestrial habitats,” says Kumar. Our next step is to produce larger bricks with a more automated and parallel manufacturing process. “.
“At the same time, we also want to further improve the strength of these bricks and test them under different load conditions such as impact and possibly crescent moon.”