flexiblefullpage -
billboard - default
interstitial1 - interstitial
Currently Reading

Fungus may be the key to colonizing mars

Great Solutions

Fungus may be the key to colonizing mars

A Cleveland-based architect and a NASA Ames researcher have a novel idea for building on Mars.


By David Malone, Associate Editor | July 13, 2018
Exterior of a Mars building prototype

Courtesy Redhouse Studio

The thought of colonizing Mars has science fiction aficionados, scientists, and billionaire entrepreneurs staring up at the night sky with renewed wonder and inspiration. But the key to achieving the lofty goal of colonizing and building extensively on a new planet may not exist out among the stars, but under our feet right here on Earth.

Christopher Maurer, an architect and Founder of Cleveland-based Redhouse Studio, and Lynn Rothschild, a NASA Ames researcher, believe algae and mycelium (the vegetative part of a fungus that consists of a network of fine white filaments) may make the perfect building material on Mars.

 

See Also: Rovers set to invade construction jobsites

 

The algae, which would act as the food supply for the fungus, and mycelium spores would be packed into a flexible plastic shell where it would be watered and coaxed to grow, providing structure for the shell and filling it out almost like air fills out a bouncy castle.

 

Interior of Mars building prototypeCourtesy Redhouse Studio.

 

Here is how Rothschild, the principal investigator on the project, and Maurer, the co-investigator, envision the process working on Mars:

• Hermetically sealed bags containing dehydrated algae and dormant mycelium would be delivered to Mars (at a fraction of the weight, space, and cost of traditional building materials) and deposited at a given build site. The bags would then be unfolded and laid flat.

• A rover would deliver carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and water sourced from Mars to begin the growing process. The double-sealed plastic shell will fill with air and water, and the embedded algae will begin to grow. This reaction will create oxygen and biomass to fill the shell and give it form.

• Fungi are released and bind with the dried algal biomass to create a strong composite. This packed mycelium has a compression strength that is better than that of lumber and a better bend strength than reinforced concrete. The entire process would only take a couple of
days to complete.

 

Courtesy Redhouse Studio.

 

Essentially, astronauts would have a sustainable building material that can be altered to produce anything from more fabric-like materials to the ultra-compacted, rigid material required for structural uses. There is also the possibility that it can be bioengineered with pigments to protect against one of the toughest obstacles associated with building on Mars: radiation. The shells could be made in any shape to produce dwellings reminiscent of the ones we are more acclimated with here on Earth.

This project, which is being funded by the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts program, is nowhere near becoming a reality, but it is one of the most well-rounded ideas yet for building on another planet.

Related Stories

AEC Tech | Apr 13, 2022

A robot automates elevator installation

  Schindler—which manufactures and installs elevators, escalators, and moving walkways—has created a robot called R.I.S.E. (robotic installation system for elevators) to help install lifts in high-rise buildings.

AEC Tech Innovation | Mar 9, 2022

Meet Emerge: WSP USA's new AEC tech incubator

Pooja Jain, WSP’s VP-Strategic Innovation, discusses the pilot programs her firm’s new incubator, Emerge, has initiated with four tech startup companies. Jain speaks with BD+C's John Caulfield about the four AEC tech firms to join Cohort 1 of the firm’s incubator.

Great Solutions | Jan 18, 2022

Researchers develop concept for rechargeable cement-based batteries

Researchers from the Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden, have created a concept for rechargeable batteries made of cement. The concept involves a cement-based mixture with small amounts of short carbon fibers added to increase conductivity and flexural toughness. 

Great Solutions | Nov 22, 2021

Drywall robots take the risk out of the finishing process

Canvas is using robots to complement the work already being done by drywall professionals.

Great Solutions | Sep 23, 2021

Seattle looks to become America’s most walkable city with a new citywide wayfinding system

Seamless Seattle will support the Seattle Department of Transportation’s commitment to increase the percentage of trips made by walking to 35% by 2035.

Great Solutions | Jul 9, 2021

MojoDesk creates a new solution for managing open office distractions

The MojoDome allows for a private work space while also maintaining a collaborative environment.

Great Solutions | Mar 18, 2021

Follow the leader: New following technology better equips robots for the jobsite

New proof-of-concept from Piaggio Fast Forward and Trimble enables robots and machines to follow humans.

Great Solutions | Feb 11, 2021

Simplifying the return to the office

A new web-based tool from Sasaki takes the guesswork out of heading back to the workplace.

Great Solutions | Oct 6, 2020

Could water-filled windows help buildings save energy?

New research shows how water-filled glass could help heat and cool buildings.

Great Solutions | Aug 10, 2020

From lobby to penthouse, elevators can be a 100% touch-free experience

The Toe-To-Go elevator system allows riders to operate the elevator entirely with their feet.

boombox1 - default
boombox2 -
native1 -

More In Category

AEC Tech

A robot automates elevator installation

 

Schindler—which manufactures and installs elevators, escalators, and moving walkways—has created a robot called R.I.S.E. (robotic installation system for elevators) to help install lifts in high-rise buildings.


AEC Tech Innovation

Meet Emerge: WSP USA's new AEC tech incubator

Pooja Jain, WSP’s VP-Strategic Innovation, discusses the pilot programs her firm’s new incubator, Emerge, has initiated with four tech startup companies. Jain speaks with BD+C's John Caulfield about the four AEC tech firms to join Cohort 1 of the firm’s incubator.


Great Solutions

Researchers develop concept for rechargeable cement-based batteries

Researchers from the Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden, have created a concept for rechargeable batteries made of cement. The concept involves a cement-based mixture with small amounts of short carbon fibers added to increase conductivity and flexural toughness. 


halfpage1 -

Most Popular Content

  1. 2021 Giants 400 Report
  2. Top 150 Architecture Firms for 2019
  3. 13 projects that represent the future of affordable housing
  4. Sagrada Familia completion date pushed back due to coronavirus
  5. Top 160 Architecture Firms 2021

 


Magazine Subscription
Subscribe

Get our Newsletters

Each day, our editors assemble the latest breaking industry news, hottest trends, and most relevant research, delivered to your inbox.

Subscribe

Follow BD+C: