cover photo for illustrative purposes only
An otherworldly project is underway. A researcher at the University of Miami is currently making "mooncrete," a material he hopes to perfect for building a habitable base on the moon. Professor and engineer Ali Ghahremaninezhad is leading the research on this project, using the lunar landscape to our advantage to create building blocks on the moon.
The key, according to Ghahremaninezhad, is using lunar soil. Lunar soil is abundant on the lunar landscape, making it an important resource for this project. If we use the materials already there, it will cut down on additional building materials that need to be transported on a lunar mission, which in turn cuts down on costs.
When lunar soil samples were brought back from the Appollo missions, researchers made an important discovery: lunar soil is comparable to fly ash. When fly ash is mixed with certain chemicals, it forms a cement-like compound.
“Fly ash has been used as an additive to improve the durability of concrete for quite some time,” Ghahremaninezhad told Robert C. Jones Jr. at the University of Miami. “So the idea is to use some of the techniques we’ve developed here on Earth and apply them to the soil on the moon.”
Since lunar soil samples brought back from space missions have run out, Ghahremaninezhad is using a lunar soil simulant to test his theories. He has had success creating blocks of material from this similar material.
NASA is currently planning a return to the moon in 2024 through the Artemis Program. Plans for a permanent lunar base will be underway just 4 years following this return. By 2028, NASA hopes to have a "sustained presence" on the moon. Artemis leads us into the next phase of human space exploration.
“It’s no longer a dream; we’re going back to the moon and beyond,” said Ghahremaninezhad to UM.