August 15, 2020: Indian scientists develop a sustainable process of making brick-like structures on the moon. A team of researchers from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has developed a sustainable process of making brick-like structures on the moon, according to IISc.
This exploits lunar soil and uses bacteria and guar beans to consolidate the soil into possible load-bearing structures. Bengaluru-based IISc said in a statement, “these space bricks could eventually be used to assemble structures for habitation on the surface of the moon, the researchers suggest,”
Space exploitation has grown exponentially in the last century. This also brings two different fields i.e. biology and mechanical engineering together. With Earth’s resources increasing rapidly, scientists have only intensified their efforts to inhibit the moon and possibly other planets.
The cost of sending one pound of material to outer space is about $10,000. The process developed by IISc and ISRO team uses urea which can be sourced from human urine and lunar soil as raw materials for the construction on the moon’s surface. This decreases the overall expenditure considerably. The process also includes lower carbon footprints as it uses guar gum instead of cement for support. This could also be used to make sustainable bricks on Earth.
Some micro-organisms can produce minerals through metabolic pathways. One such bacterium, called Sporosarcina pasteurii, produces calcium carbonate crystals through a metabolic pathway called ureolytic cycle. It uses urea and calcium to form these crystals as byproducts od the pathway.
The IISc and ISRO would also like to further enhance the strength of these bricks and test them under varied loading conditions like impacts and possibly moonquakes.