Jun 17, 2019 | Updated: 11:38 AM EDT

3D Printed Bricks From Moon-Dust Could Be The Best Building Blocks For Space Colonization

May 07, 2017 06:29 AM EDT

3D-printing moondust bricks with focused solar heat
(Photo : European Space Agency, ESA/Youtube) Bricks have been 3D printed out of simulated moondust using concentrated sunlight. This ESA project took place at the DLR German Aerospace Center facility in Cologne, with a 3D printer table attached to a solar furnace, baking successive 0.1 mm layers of moondust at a temperature of 1000°C. A 20 x 10 x 3 cm brick for building can be completed in around five hours. DLR Cologne’s solar furnace has two working setups: as a baseline, it uses 147 curved mirror facets to focus either actual sunlight into a high temperature beam, employed to melt together the grains of regolith. But this mode is weather dependent, so a solar simulator was subsequently employed as well – based on an array of xenon lamps more typically found in cinema projectors.

Human houses are also getting evolved since the beginning of human evolution. From tree branches, woods, clays to solid concrete, but the evolution is not stopped yet. The new generation houses would be made from the 3D printed bricks. Researchers from DLR German Aerospace Center got this innovative idea to print bricks from moon-dust by using concentrated sunlight.

Scientists made the first prototype of brick at the solar furnace facility in Cologne. According to Digital Trends, scientists constructed the brick on a 3D printer table and baked it in a custom furnace. Scientists used 147 mirrors to focus sunlight on a single point. The centralized beam is hot enough to melt grains and soil together.

The 3D printer is capable of constructing 0.1 mm of the layer at a time and the brick was about 20 x 10 x 3 cm in dimension. ESA reported that the furnace took almost five hours to complete the baking process at a massive 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. However, instead of using lunar dust researchers used terrestrial volcanic materials to mimic the properties and composition of moon-dust.

Advanced manufacturing engineer at the European Space Agency(ESA), Dr. Advenit Makaya said in a statement,“The starting material used in these trials is the JSC-2A lunar soil simulant”. Makaya and his team at German Aerospace Center have done plenty analysis that includes melting behavior, chemical composition, grain size distribution. Later, they have compared the data with the NASA’s Apollo mission samples.

This invention will fulfill the need of housing materials in remote areas. Researchers have also produced xenon lamp set up as an alternative for cloudy days, same lamps that are typically used in movie projectors and in headlamps in some cars. The bricks will not only be used in future homes but also used as space colonization. Architects don’t have to carry such heavy building materials.

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