Iron can be microbially extracted from Lunar and Martian regolith simulants and 3D printed into tough structural materials

Sofie M. Castelein, Tom F. Aarts, Juergen Schleppi, Ruud Hendrikx, Amarante J. Böttger, Dominik Benz, Maude Marechal, Advenit Makaya, Stan J. J. Brouns, Martin Schwentenwein, Anne S. Meyer, Benjamin A. E. Lehner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
23 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

In-situ resource utilization (ISRU) is increasingly acknowledged as an essential requirement for the construction of sustainable extra-terrestrial colonies. Even with decreasing launch costs, the ultimate goal of establishing colonies must be the usage of resources found at the destination of interest. Typical approaches towards ISRU are often constrained by the mass and energy requirements of transporting processing machineries, such as rovers and massive reactors, and the vast amount of consumables needed. Application of self-reproducing bacteria for the extraction of resources is a promising approach to reduce these pitfalls. In this work, the bacterium Shewanella oneidensis was used to reduce three different types of Lunar and Martian regolith simulants, allowing for the magnetic extraction of iron-rich materials. The combination of bacterial treatment and magnetic extraction resulted in a 5.8-times higher quantity of iron and 43.6% higher iron concentration compared to solely magnetic extraction. The materials were 3D printed into cylinders and the mechanical properties were tested, resulting in a 400% improvement in compressive strength in the bacterially treated samples. This work demonstrates a proof of concept for the on-demand production of construction and replacement parts in space exploration.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0249962
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume16
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 Apr 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Iron can be microbially extracted from Lunar and Martian regolith simulants and 3D printed into tough structural materials'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this