Published on Mon Sep 20 2021

Microbial induced calcite precipitation can consolidate martian and lunar regolith simulants

Dikshit, R., Gupta, N., Dey, A., Viswanathan, K., Kumar, A.

Microbial Induced Calcite Precipitation (MICP) can be utilized for creation of consolidates of Martian Simulant Soil (MSS) and Lunar Simulants (LSS) MICP mediated consolidation of the simulant soil was confirmed with field emission scanning electron microscopy.

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Abstract

We demonstrate that Microbial Induced Calcite Precipitation (MICP) can be utilized for creation of consolidates of Martian Simulant Soil (MSS) and Lunar Simulant Soil (LSS) in the form of a 'brick'. A urease producer bacteria, Sporosarcina pasteurii, was used to induce the MICP process for the both simulant soils. An admixture of guar gum as an organic polymer and NiCl2, as bio- catalyst to enhance urease activity, was introduced to increase the compressive strength of the biologically grown bricks. A casting method was utilized for a slurry consisting of the appropriate simulant soil and microbe; the slurry over a few days consolidated in the form of a 'brick' of the desired shape. In case of MSS, maximum strength of 3.3 MPa was obtained with 10mM NiCl2 and 1% guar gum supplementation whereas in case of LSS maximum strength of 5.65 MPa was obtained with 1% guar gum supplementation and 10mM NiCl2. MICP mediated consolidation of the simulant soil was confirmed with field emission scanning electron microscopy (FESEM) and X-ray diffraction (XRD). Our work demonstrates a biological approach with an explicit casting method towards manufacturing of consolidated structures using extra-terrestrial regolith simulant; this is a promising route for in situ development of structural elements on the extra-terrestrial habitats.