There is no doubt that a manned mission to Mars will sooner or later take place and the first settlers will have to live somewhere. At the same time, the material for houses must be durable, inexpensive and withstand the harsh conditions of the red planet. And it so happened that the raw material for such a material was found. Moreover, not in high-tech laboratories, but at a brewery.
According to Nano Energy, a group of researchers from the University of Colorado, led by Ivan Smalyukh, managed to develop a cheap airgel. Airgel is a material with a rigid frame and a large (up to 90%) number of cavities with air or other gas bubbles. Due to this, the airgel is very light, little raw materials are used for its production, and due to the special structure of the frame, the rigidity of the structure is sufficient to use the airgel as a building material. Among other things, airgel has good thermal insulation properties and is permeable to sunlight, but there is also a drawback: the airgel is matte due to the chaotic internal structure. It was the last property that the team of scientists decided to change.
The basis of the framework of the new type of airgel is cellulose. There is a lot of it in the waste of brewing – beer wort, which at the moment is simply disposed of. Thus, you can get “space building material” for mere pennies. Some factories will be only too happy to be rid of a huge amount of waste material. In the process of processing the wort, a special type of aerobic bacteria processes it into nano-strands of cellulose, resulting in a transparent flexible film, and the heat resistance of such a material is so high that it can be placed in a fire for a while without any problems. The authors believe that the new material can be used in space missions:
“A transparent, lightweight and durable heat insulator would help, for example, the Martian colonists. You can “collect” sunlight passing through a heat-insulating window and keep warm inside the room, avoiding hypothermia and without wasting resources on heating rooms on the Moon or Mars. “
In addition, the material can be useful on Earth for the manufacture of heat-preserving windows and even, according to the authors, transparent winter clothing. The latter sounds very strange, but given the very extravagant trends in modern fashion, why not?