Near room temperature production of segregated network composites of carbon nanotubes and regolith as multifunctional, building materials in space

J.R. Garcia, E. Caffrey, L. Doolan, D.V. Horvath, T. Carey, C. Gabbett, J.N. Coleman
Trinity College Dublin,

Keywords: lunar, martian, regolith, internal sensors, carbon nanotubes, compressive strength, conductive


Constructing a semi-permanent base on the moon or Mars will require maximal use of materials found in-situ and minimisation of equipment and materials transported from Earth. This will mean a heavy reliance of regolith (Lunar or Marian soil) and water, supplemented by small quantities of additives fabricated on Earth. In this presentation, we show that SiO2-based powders, as well as Lunar and Martian regolith simulants, can be fabricated into building materials near room temperature using less than 10% of carbon nanotubes as a binder. These materials have compressive strength and toughness up to 100 MPa and 3 MPa respectively, higher than the best terrestrial concretes. These composites are electrically conductive (>20 S/m) and display an extremely large piezoresistive response (gauge factor >600), enabling their use as internal sensors to monitor the structural health of extra-terrestrial buildings.