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Utilization of urea as an accessible superplasticizer on the moon for lunar geopolymer mixtures

Pilehvar, S; Arnhof, M; Pamies, R; Valentini, L; Kjoniksen, AL

JOURNAL OF CLEANER PRODUCTION
2020
VL / 247 - BP / - EP /
abstract
When developing materials for lunar construction, it is essential to minimize the weight of components that have to be brought in from Earth. All necessary ingredients for geopolymers could potentially be sourced on the lunar surface, which is why the material might be an efficient construction material for infrastructure on the moon. Finding a chemical admixture that can be easily obtained on the moon, which can increase the workability while utilizing less water, would be highly beneficial for utilizing lunar regolith geopolymers for lunar 3D printing. Urea can break hydrogen bonds, and therefore reduces the viscosities of many aqueous mixtures. Since urea is the second most abundant component in urine (after water), it is readily available anywhere there are humans. We have therefore explored the possibility of utilizing urea as a chemical admixture for lunar geopolymers. Addition of urea has been compared with polycarboxylate and naphthalene based superplasticizers, and with a control mixture without superplasticizer. When curing the sample containing urea at 80 degrees C, the initial setting time became longer. The samples containing urea or naphthalene-based superplasticizers could bear heavy weights shortly after mixing, while keeping an almost stable shape. Samples without superplasticizer or containing the polycarboxylate-based admixture were too stiff for mold-shaped formation after casting. Samples containing urea and naphthalene-based admixtures could be used to build up a structure without any noticeable deformation. Initial compressive strength of the samples with urea was higher than for the two other specimens containing superplasticizers, and it continued to rise even after 8 freeze-thaw cycles. Microstructural studies revealed that superplasticizers can influence the formation of additional air voids within the samples. (C) 2019 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
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PROYECTO FINANCIADO POR PLAN NACIONAL DE INVESTIGACIÓN AGENCIA ESTATAL DE INVESTIGACIÓN, MINISTERIO DE CIENCIA E INNOVACIÓN. PID2019-109127RB-I00