These Bricks Are Made From Synthetic Moon Dust, Blasted In A Solar Furnace
Are you building a new home and looking for a design that will make your neighbors sit up and take notice? The construction of 3D printed synthetic moondust bricks burned with concentrated sunlight should do the job!
The space-age masonry was created by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in its solar furnace system in Cologne. To do this, simulated lunar material was taken and cooked in a special oven that uses 147 curved mirrors to focus the sunlight into a single, high-temperature beam capable of melting grains of earth together.
All of this happens on a 3D printer table, which can be used to bake successive 0.1mm layers of moondust at a massive 1,800 degrees F. A single 20 x 10 x 3 cm brick takes about five hours.
Due to the lack of actual lunar soil, the moondust used in the demo was based on terrestrial volcanic material that was processed to mimic the composition and grain size of the actual moondust.
“The starting material used in these experiments is the lunar soil simulator JSC-2A,” said Dr. Advenit Makaya, Advanced Manufacturing Engineer at the European Space Agency, told Digital Trends. “Our contractor at the German Aerospace Center has carried out some analyzes with regard to chemical composition, grain size distribution, density and melting behavior and compared the results with data from Apollo mission samples and with the simulant developed by the company JSC-1A NASA. The agreement with these two references turned out to be very good. “
ESA – G. Wear
ESA – G. Wear
It seems somewhat amusing that the sun can be just as rare in Northern Europe as real moon dust – and the researchers have to rebuild their solar oven by adding a number of xenon lamps for cloudy days. These xenon lamps are the same lamps typically used in movie projectors.
While we joked above about the bricks that will be used in future homes, in reality the inventors planned a little further afield. Specifically, the bricks will help with possible future building in space without having to drag heavy building materials out of our atmosphere.
“These bricks demonstrate the concept of printing three-dimensional objects using only lunar soil and concentrated sunlight,” continued Makaya. “Previous studies used either a binding agent – which must be brought from the earth – or an additional source of energy such as a laser or microwaves to solidify the soil powder. The approach developed here significantly reduces the need to bring material or complex equipment from Earth. It offers a sustainable way of using local resources to build structures or hardware. “
The next step for the project is an EU-funded exercise aimed at increasing the complexity of objects for the lunar environment.