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Building a space colony? Use potatoes instead of human blood

Researchers also tried making concrete with urine.

a black block in a persons hand

File this one under “Strange but (Probably) Scientifically Significant.”

Researchers at the University of Manchester in England have published a report summing up their recent work: finding the best way to make concrete-like materials on Mars or the Moon.

Unsurprisingly, potato starch emerged as a front-runner in their study — combined with salt and a simulacrum of alien soil to make “StarCrete.”

This new material is said to be more than twice as strong as traditional concrete, and 55 pounds of potatoes can create as many as 200 bricks.

Maybe Matt Damon was on the right track in The Martian.

Matt Damon grows potatoes in the Martian
Matt Damon grows potatoes in The Martian (2010)

Surprisingly, on their way to discovering that potato starch was more efficient, researchers tested out compounds using… other… liquids that might be readily available to future space explorers.

Namely: human blood and urine.

A bloody good study

While the headlines are sure to grab attention, researchers had good cause to test blood and urine.

Both substances would be (relatively) easy to acquire in a pinch — for instance, if a space base needs emergency repairs.

Most importantly, blood and urine are renewable resources, meaning crew wouldn’t need to wait for shipments from Earth, which could cost a mission valuable time and money.

NASA’s Perseverance rover takes a selfie on Mars. (Image: NASA)
NASA’s Perseverance rover takes a selfie on Mars. (Image: NASA)

Fortunately our futuristic frontiers-people seem to have been spared the needle (for now), but as interplanetary travel becomes less of a distant dream, researchers have to consider every option.

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Roger Feeley-Lussier is a recovering Social Media Expert who lives in Central Massachusetts.

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