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Additive manufacturing of adobe with clay water-matrix systems for radiation shielding on Mars



Organisational Unit
22 April 2024

Duration: 36 months


The development of infrastructure on Mars is essential in future crewed missions, where In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) will play a key role in sustainable sourcing. Regolith feedstock can be processed for manufacturing through different methods [1]. Extrusion Additive Manufacturing (AM) is a technology that offers scalability, the capability to manufacture a diverse range of materials and complex shapes, and adaptability to harsh environments such as the one on Mars. Using site-specific resources, materials can be developed for good mechanical strength and radiation absorbance. With no protective magnetosphere on Mars, humans and electronic equipment are vulnerable to cosmic radiation that amounts to very high doses without proper shielding. The use of regolith has been investigated for this purpose [2–4], in some cases incorporating polymer layers for increased hydrogen content to enhance neutron capture capabilities [5]. Clay-rich regolith, ice water, and brines are present on Mars [6–9] and can potentially produce slurries for AM of infrastructure. Extrusion AM can produce green bodies with clay-water matrices that remain frozen under the right conditions, providing structural integrity. Frozen silty clay’s tensile and compressive strengths can approach similar values to that of concrete on Earth. Additionally, clay slurries are an effective absorber of thermal neutrons, with increased performance given a higher water content [10]. This project proposes the development of water-clay systems in different phase conditions (wet, icy, dry) to investigate the mechanical and radiation shielding properties of materials produced via extrusion AM.

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Additive manufacturing of adobe with clay water-matrix systems for radiation shielding on Mars