Potato-Starch Cement: Revolutionary Material for Space Building”

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Scientists at the University of Manchester have developed a new material that could revolutionize construction on Mars and the Moon. Dubbed StarCrete, the material is made from a blend of potato starch, salt, and an imitation of Martian dust. It has been found to be twice as strong as conventional cement, with a compressive strength of 72 megapascals (MPa) compared to the 32 MPa of regular cement.

Developing StarCrete

The researchers used potato starch as a binder, which is an affordable and practical option as it is already supplied as food for astronauts. Salt was also added to the mixture to increase its strength. During testing, StarCrete made from imitation lunar dust was even stronger, with a compressive strength of 91 MPa.

The study was part of a larger project aimed at finding the best material for construction on Mars and the Moon. The use of potato starch as a binding agent is a practical and affordable option.

Benefits of StarCrete

One of the key benefits of StarCrete is that it does not require high-tech equipment, which would significantly increase the cost of the mission. The material can be made “in an oven at home baking temperature.” The team estimated that 25 kilograms of dehydrated potatoes could produce nearly half a ton of StarCrete, which is the equivalent of 213 bricks.

Dr. Aled Roberts, who led the team of scientists, has launched a startup called DeakinBio to explore ways to improve StarCrete and look into options for its use not only in space but also on Earth. The potential uses of StarCrete on Earth include building homes and other structures in areas where traditional building materials are not readily available.

Overall, the development of StarCrete is a significant step forward in the field of space construction. With its strength, affordability, and ease of production, it has the potential to transform the way we build in space and on Earth.