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Nov 17 – 18, 2022
Montreal, Canada - Concordia University Conference Centre
Canada/Eastern timezone

DROP THE BASE: Biological, ISRU-Based Aleatory Construction System for Martian Habitats (virtual)

Nov 18, 2022, 9:45 AM
20m
Rooms A&B (Montreal, Canada - Concordia University Conference Centre)

Rooms A&B

Montreal, Canada - Concordia University Conference Centre

John-Molson School of Business
Moving to Mars Workshop: 17-18 November

Speaker

Monika Brandic Lipinska (Hub for Biotechnology in the Built Environment)

Description

Building on Mars brings challenges observed from two angles. The constraints associated with the distance from Earth and the Sun, are the lack of construction materials and machinery, the complexity of the process with communication delays, and the energy attainability. Therewithal, there are challenges associated with environmental conditions like different gravity conditions, lack of a breathable atmosphere, and need for protection from radiation. Such extreme conditions, where resources are highly constrained, call for a reinvented construction process, developed specifically for these conditions.

One of the alternative approaches for extraterrestrial construction is the use of biological materials. Such materials could be brought from Earth, and replicated in situ, for the construction of surface habitats and other structures. We are proposing the biofabrication strategy for stabilizing regolith using mycelium. This approach focuses specifically on building in resource-limited conditions. It considers the biomass, water, and oxygen use when it comes to creating the structural components, and the assembly process when it comes to the energy use and a need for robotic operations. The work proposes the creation of in situ grown regolith-based biocomposites. However, instead of creating bricks that would require an additional assembly process, the elements would act as “construction seeds”. The components could be literally dropped (due to lower gravity eliminating the risk of crushing) and aleatorily assembled, within the guiding framework. The stacked elements would create a bio-aggregate system, which due to the living matter, could perform biowelding; grow together, and turn into a solid structure, creating a protective habitat shell.

The work demonstrates mycelium growth in inorganic soils, its binding properties, and the structural interaction between mycelium, biomass, and soil. It also presents the early developments toward a bio-aggregate system that would work in reduced gravity conditions, enabling the construction of extraterrestrial habitats with minimal energy and additional resources. It addresses the challenges for biological fabrication for building on Mars, including understanding the complexity of biological material synthesis, the predictability and precision of the result, and the scale-up of processes.

Primary authors

Monika Brandic Lipinska (Hub for Biotechnology in the Built Environment) Prof. Martyn Dade-Roberston (Hub for Biotechnology in the Built Environment) Dr Meng Zhang (Hub for Biotechnology in the Built Environment)

Presentation materials