Mock "Martian" soil lets scientists create concrete concept - Could be used for future buildings on the planet Mars

01/11/2016 - 19:29

Sadly there is no mention of additive manufacturing / 3D printing. We think the first buildings on another planet or our moon, will be built by an autonomous 3D printing robot similar to what is shown by ESA (European Space Agency) in this video.

There is growing interest in the goal of sending humans to Mars. Various space agencies have begun to study the numerous problems such a mission would present, not least of which is protecting humans during the journey.

But once humans arrive on the red planet, they will require high quality buildings in which to live and work.


Ref: A Novel Material for In Situ Construction on Mars: Experiments and Numerical Simulations. arXiv - Materials Science (7 January 2016) | | FULL PDF


A significant step in space exploration during the 21st century will be human settlement on Mars. Instead of transporting all the construction materials from Earth to the red planet with incredibly high cost, using Martian soil to construct a site on Mars is a superior choice. Knowing that Mars has long been considered a "sulfur-rich planet", a new construction material composed of simulated Martian soil and molten sulfur is developed. In addition to the raw material availability for producing sulfur concrete, while its strength reaches similar levels to conventional cementitious concrete, fast curing, low temperature sustainability, acid and salt environment resistance, 100% recyclability are appealing superior characteristics of the developed Martian Concrete. In this study, different percentages of sulfur are investigated to obtain the optimal mixing proportions. Three point bending, unconfined compression and splitting tests were conducted to determine strength development, strength variability, and failure mechanisms. The test results are compared with sulfur concrete utilizing regular sand. It is observed that the particle size distribution plays a significant role in the mixture's final strength. Furthermore, since Martian soil is metal rich, sulfates and, potentially, polysulfates are also formed during high temperature mixing, which contribute to the high strength. The optimal mix developed as Martian Concrete has an unconfined compressive strength of above 50 MPa, which corresponds to a roughly 150 MPa concrete on Mars due to the difference in gravity between Mars and Earth. The formulated Martian Concrete is then simulated by the Lattice Discrete Particle Model (LDPM), which exhibits excellent ability in modeling the material response under various loading conditions.