Indian team develops space bricks

April 25, 2022 |

In India, researchers at the Indian Space Research Organisation and Indian Institute of Science have jointly developed a building material from bacteria, guar beans, and moon or Mars soil. 

They claim that “space bricks” made from the material are load-bearing and tough enough for infrastructure use.  “It is really exciting because it brings two different fields—biology and mechanical engineering—together,” Aloke Kumar, Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, says in an IISc press statement. 

The key ingredient for the bricks is urea, which can be sourced from soil found on Mars and the moon. Guar gum, a bacterium called Sporosarcina pasteurii, and nickel chloride were also used to make the bricks. The bacteria converts urea into calcium carbonate crystals and also secretes biopolymers that act as a binder. The nickel chloride keeps the bacteria alive by mitigating the soils’ high iron concentrations. 

The team is now working to improve the bacteria’s survivability in different atmospheric conditions. 

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Category: Chemicals & Materials

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