Base Construction Material

Whether we go to Mars or the Moon, if we expect to build up a base it will be to our advantage to be able to use the materials we find there.

Even if we use the initial lander or sent ahead containers, there will be a need to provide additional  material to provide shielding, especially if there is no atmosphere to slow down cosmic rays.

John Reed passed me a link to some work that has been done to see if bricks could be made from a Martian Soil Simulant.

Direct Formation of Structural Components Using a Martian Soil Simulant

  • Scientific Reports 7, Article number: 1151 (2017)
  • doi:10.1038/s41598-017-01157-w


Martian habitats are ideally constructed using only locally available soils; extant attempts to process structural materials on Mars, however, generally require additives or calcination. In this work we demonstrate that Martian soil simulant Mars-1a can be directly compressed at ambient into a strong solid without additives, highlighting a possible aspect of complete Martian insitu resource utilization. Flexural strength of the compact is not only determined by the compaction pressure but also significantly influenced by the lateral boundary condition of processing loading. The compression loading can be applied either quasi-statically or through impact. Nanoparticulate iron oxide (npOx), commonly detected in Martian regolith, is identified as the bonding agent. Gas permeability of compacted samples was measured to be on the order of 10−16 m2, close to that of solid rocks. The compaction procedure is adaptive to additive manufacturing.

Shorter version of report. – LRK

Engineers investigate a simple, no-bake recipe to make bricks from Martian soil

April 27, 2017
University of California – San Diego
Explorers planning to settle on Mars might be able to turn the planet’s soil into bricks without needing to use an oven or additional ingredients. Instead, they would need to apply pressure to compact the soil–the equivalent of a blow from a hammer.
This is a brick made of Martian soil simulant compacted under pressure. The brick was made without any additional ingredients and without baking.
Credit: Jacobs School of Engineering/UC San Diego

Since we would like to go back to the Moon to Stay, using what we find in the Lunar Soil should be considered as well.

What elements are there can help suggest what might make a good way to use the soil.

It looks like work has been done on lunar soil simulents.
Introduction: The potential of utilizing lunar regolith as the raw material for manufacturing structural members is very appealing for future exploration of the Moon [1,2]. Future lunar missions will depend on in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) for structural components. Manufacturing structural components directly from unrefined lunar regolith would have the advantage of needing less specialized material processing equipment in comparison with refining the lunar regolith for its raw elements. Sintering lunar regolith has been proposed as a structural material by previous researchers but has not been evaluated for its elastic material properties. Sintering can be a highly variable process and only with the material constants can a structure be designed from this material.
Developing Cementitious Materials Using Lunar Soil Simulant Yu Qiao,* Jin Chen, Aijie Han. Department of Structural Engineering, University of California at San Diego 9500 Gilman Dr. MC 0085, La Jolla, CA 92093-0085, USA (Email:
Summary: An organic-inorganic nanohybrid of high flexure strength and low permeability is developed using lunar soil simulant and polymer-silicate interphase. The interphase consists of a continuous polyamide 6 phase, exfoliated silicate nanolayers, and dispersed silicate tactoids intercalated by polyamide 6 oligomers. The lunar soil simulant is strongly bonded by the interphase through a two-staged heating and mixing process, forming a multiscale structure with the characteristic lengths ranging from nanometer level to sub-millimeter level. This technique has great potential in developing high-performance space infrastructural materials using locally harvestable resources. A complete report has been published elsewhere.[1]


I haven’t seen whether just impacting Lunar soil (regolith)  will make nice bricks.

I have a stack of books that discuss what might go into making a Lunar base.

It looks like I need to do a lot of re-reading and then see if we are doing more actual testing.  Hopefully that will be the case as others are now talking more about going to the Moon with landers.

Send in the robots and let’s see if they can make some Lego Bricks that can be stacked neatly into structures. 

I wonder what a LEGO Lander made from Lunar Regolith would cost?{}

Lego Lunar Lander

The Lunar Dust Problem: From Liability to Asset Lawrence A. Taylor1 ( Planetary Geosciences Institute, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996 Harrison H. Schmitt2 Engineering Research Bldg., University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, 53706 W. David Carrier, III3 Lunar Geotechnical Institute, P.O. Box 5056, Lakeland, FL 33807 And Masami Nakagawa4 Division of Engineering, Colorado School of Mines, Golden, CO 80401
In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) of lunar materials for the establishment of an extra-terrestrial human base or settlement will involve guarding against, as well as utilizing, the ever-present, clinging, penetrating, abrasive, resource-rich, fine-grained lunar dust. The properties of the fine portion of the lunar soil (<50 µm), its dust, must be adequately addressed before any sustained presence on the Moon can be fully realized; these include:
1) abrasiveness, with regards to friction-bearing surfaces;
2) pervasive nature as coatings, on seals, gaskets, optical lens, windows, etc.,
3) gravitational settling on all thermal and optical surfaces, such as solar cells; and
4) physiological effects on the tissue in human lungs.
The chemical and physical properties of the fine fraction of lunar soil is at the root of the unusual properties of the dust that contribute to its deleterious effects – its “liability”. Recent discoveries of the unique magnetic properties of lunar mare and highland soils by the senior author’s Tennessee group have led to suggested solutions to the liability of the lunar dust. The soil fragments and dust grains contain myriads of adhering nano-sized (3-30 nm) Fe0 particles, iron in its elemental form, concentrated especially in the fine, dusty fraction. The presence of this ferromagnetic Fe0 on and in almost every grain of the fine dust-sized particles imparts an unusually high magnetic susceptibility to the particles, such that they are easily captures by a magnet. Furthermore, the presence of these nanophase Fe0 grains imparts an unusual property to the soil for microwave energy. The microwaves couple strongly with the Fe0 to such a degree that a sample of Apollo soil placed in an ordinary 2.45 MHz kitchen microwave will literally begin to melt before your tea-water boils. Further considerations of the properties of the fine soil are the basis for the microwave sintering/melting, hot-pressing, and extrusion of the soil to form various construction materials, in order to realize some of the “assets” of the soil
[Note – 31 references – LRK -]




About SpecialK

Retired Navy Aviation Electronics Warrant Officer
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1 Response to Base Construction Material

  1. SpecialK says:

    Moon colony is one step closer: 3D printed bricks from moondust
    Bricks have been 3D printed out of simulated moondust using concentrated sunlight.
    This proves that future lunar colonists could one day use the same approach to build settlements on the Moon.
    “We took simulated lunar material and cooked it in a solar furnace,” explains materials engineer Advenit Makaya, overseeing the project for ESA.
    “This was done on a 3D printer table, to bake successive 0.1 mm layers of moondust at 1000°C. We can complete a 20 x 10 x 3 cm brick for building in around five hours.”


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