Space Bricks made from Urea are a massive step towards the potential human habitation on the Moon. These bricks are used for architectural structures on the surface of the Moon.
Scientists from the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Indian Institute of Sciences (IISc) have together developed bricks .Those are made out of Urea for the potential Lunar habitation in this century. The bricks are sustainable and eco-friendly because they are made out of Biologically derived Urea. Since these bricks do not encourage the use of cement, it is quite effective in reducing carbon footprints.
Aloke Kumar, assistant professor in the department of mechanical engineering, IISc said in a statement, “It exploits lunar soil, and uses bacteria and guar beans to consolidate the soil into possible load-bearing structures.”These space bricks could eventually be used to assemble structures for habitation on the moon’s surface.” Kumar is also one of the authors of the two studies that were recently published regarding the space bricks in Ceramics International and PLOS One.
“It is really exciting because it brings two different fields biology and mechanical engineering together,” said Aloke Kumar.
Various Biological organisms produce important minerals and substances through their metabolic pathways. One such example is of the bacterium ”Sporosarcina pasteurii” produces calcium carbonate crystals. It is done through a metabolic pathway called the ureolytic cycle- which uses urea and calcium to form these crystals as byproducts of the pathway. Another Example being of “Diatoms”, A group of Algae which produce Silica.
To exploit this ability of “Sporosarcina pastuerii,” Kumar and other scientists at IISc teamed up with ISRO scientists Arjun Dey and I Venugopal. They first mixed the bacteria with a simulant of lunar soil. Then required urea and calcium sources along with gum extracted from locally-sourced guar beans.
The guar gum increased the strength of the material by serving as a scaffold for carbonate precipitation.
“The final product obtained after a few days of incubation was found to possess significant strength and machinability,” the statement claimed.
As earth’s natural resources are depleting rapidly with the Global Industrialization, It is essential to develop innovative methods for the preservation of the Environment and Earth. This Invention is a major step towards protecting the Earth and in Space Exploration. Soon further research will be done to see if the bricks can withstand the effects of moonquakes. (Source: NDTV)