Scientists have developed a new material called “starcrete,” a type of concrete made using potato starch, that could be used to build future homes on Mars. This innovative material was developed by a team of researchers from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and was presented at the American Chemical Society (ACS) Spring 2023 National Meeting and Exposition.
According to the team, the potato-based concrete could be a viable solution to the challenges of constructing buildings on Mars. Due to the planet’s extreme environment, traditional building materials such as steel and concrete would be difficult to produce and transport. However, potatoes are a crop that can be easily grown in Martian soil and provide the necessary ingredients for making the new material.
“We need to find a way to build structures on Mars that are resilient to the planet’s extreme temperature changes and strong radiation,” said Yu Qiao, a professor of structural engineering at UCSD and the leader of the research team. “Our potato-based concrete offers a feasible solution to this problem.”
The team used a technique called “freeze-casting” to create the starcrete. The process involves freezing an aqueous solution of potato starch and then freeze-drying it to remove the water. The resulting material is a porous, lightweight foam that has the potential to be used as an insulating material in building structures.
“We were able to create a material that is strong, lightweight, and has good insulation properties,” said Qiao. “This makes it an ideal material for building structures on Mars.”
The team also tested the durability of the starcrete in extreme Martian conditions. They exposed the material to high temperatures and radiation levels similar to those on Mars, and found that it remained strong and intact.
“This is a very promising material for building structures on Mars,” said Qiao. “We still have a lot of work to do, but we believe that starcrete has the potential to be a game-changer for space exploration.”
The development of starcrete could have significant implications for future space exploration, as it provides a sustainable and practical solution to the challenges of building structures on other planets.
“We are excited to see how this material will be used in future missions to Mars and beyond,” said Qiao. “It is a testament to the ingenuity and creativity of the scientific community, and we are proud to be a part of it.”
Via The Impactlab