Recyclable hydrogel-based brick for construction on Mars: a feasibility study
Project Description

The first human shelter on Mars will be the space station, which is made on earth; how about the second one and after? What will the shelters be made of? The maximum load capacity of a rocket to Mars is now only one metric ton; it is unlikely to deliver raw materials and machineries to make concrete or steel on the Mars. So we proposed a temperature-dependent hydrogel to bind sands, which are abundant in situ on Martian surface. The prototype has been developed. It hardens at relatively temperature to take load; when heated it melts and becomes recyclable for constructions at a new location.
In this proposed project, we will enhance the mechanical properties of the hydrogel-based bricks and recyclability of the gel itself. We are going to study and optimize its microstructures of the brick, by both experimental and numerical methods. This will be a multi-year project, the enrolled students are welcome to continue in the future UROPs (for both summer sessions and spring/fall sessions) or FYPs.

QIU Jishen
Course type
Applicant's Roles

The students will major work as research assistant in the lab work, such as material development, sample preparation, and mechanical tests. The students may have the chance to work on microstructural analysis in numerical simulation. An experienced postgraduate student will be closely guiding the work; the faculty be supervising on weekly basis or more frequently (face-to-face).
Applicants with different backgrounds, such as civil engineering, mechanical engineering, chemistry, chemical engineering, are equally welcome to apply. Interested applicants are welcome to consult the supervisor beforehand.

Applicant's Learning Objectives

• Basic skills as an experimental researcher: literature review, specimen preparation, data analysis, communication skills
• Advanced skills (optional): problem-defining, material characterization, paper writing (as a co-author if his/her contribution is significant).
• Applying knowledge to specific technical challenges of interdisciplinary research.

Complexity of the project