What could possibly go wrong? Scientists at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom have developed a new formulation that can use material known to exist on Mars, combined with the addition of astronaut blood, to produce useful concrete.
Working with simulated lunar and Martian soils, the team experimented with using human blood and waste products as binding material, and turned up some interesting results.
The work showed that a common protein in the blood called serum albumin could be used as a binder to produce a concrete-like material with compressive strength comparable to ordinary concrete. In investigating the mechanisms at play, the team found the blood proteins “curdle” to form “beta sheets” that extend outward to hold the material together.
Even more interestingly, the team found that urea, a waste product found in urine, sweat and tears, could be incorporated to increase this compressive strength by more than 300 percent. That is to say, the key to cosmic concrete stronger than what we have here on Earth might be found in our blood, sweat and tears (and urine).
This work was inspired by ancient building techniques, which often used pig blood in concrete for similar reasons.