European researchers have recently discovered that the urine of astronauts could help them create a lunar base leading to a space on the Moon, for them to live in. In a bizarre discovery, scientists discovered the formation of some kind of 'Moon concrete', on mixing urea with lunar material. This discovery has made the probability of building bases on the Moon, higher and possible. The research was led by researchers from Norway, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands, in cooperation with the European State Agency (ESA).
The discovery was followed after several experiments were conducted wherein urea from human urine was used as a plasticizer, which is a substance that is used to turn hard materials into flexible ones. The plasticizing nature of urea, however, was tested by the researchers by mixing it with a material that was similar to the lunar material found on the moon's surface. After multiple tests, it was found that the 'moon concrete' they had formed by mixing urea and plasticizing materials was able to withstand very heavyweight and temperature up to 80°C. The resistance of the concrete was tested during eight freeze-thaw, just like the ones that occur on the Moon.
1/2— Lunar Astronomy; Moon' Exploration & Coloniz/ News (@DubnHG1) March 28, 2020
Astronaut urine to build moon bases
The modules that the major space agencies plan to erect on the Moon could incorporate an element contributed by the human colonizers themselves: the urea in their pee. pic.twitter.com/gTaeSEVV7E
Ramon Pamies, study researcher and a professor at the Polytechnic University of Cartagena reportedly said: "To make the geopolymer concrete that will be used on the Moon, the idea is to use what is there: regolith [loose material from the Moon’s surface] and the water from the ice present in some areas. But moreover, with this study we have seen that a waste product, such as the urine of the personnel who occupy the moon bases, could also be used. The two main components of this body fluid are water and urea, a molecule that allows the hydrogen bonds to be broken and, therefore, reduces the viscosities of many aqueous mixtures."
The experiments were carried out at Ostfold University College in Norway, revealing that the samples of the concrete material were able to support heavy weights by remaining stable and in shape. However, only the cost of carrying about 0.45 kg to space is very expensive, nearly $10,000, therefore the building of an entire settlement on Moon would turn out to be a very expensive affair. The researchers also created 3D images of mud cylinders on space which proved the stability of the concrete material.
Another researcher Lena Kjoniksen further added: "We have not yet investigated how the urea would be extracted from the urine, as we are assessing whether this would really be necessary, because perhaps its other components could also be used to form the geopolymer concrete. The actual water in the urine could be used for the mixture, together with that which can be obtained on the Moon, or a combination of both."