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Towards the colonization of Mars by in-situ resource utilization: Slip cast ceramics from Martian soil simulant

Karl, David; Kamutzki, Franz; Zocca, Andrea; Görke, Oliver; Günster, Jens; Gurlo, Aleksander

FG Keramische Werkstoffe

Here we demonstrate that by applying exclusively Martian resources a processing route involving suspensions of mineral particles called slurries or slips can be established for manufacturing ceramics on Mars. We developed water-based slurries without the use of additives that had a 51 wt. % solid load resembling commercial porcelain slurries in respect to the particle size distribution and rheological properties. These slurries were used to slip cast discs, rings and vases that were sintered at temperatures between 1000 and 1130 °C using different sintering schedules, the latter were set-up according the results of hot-stage microscopic characterization. The microstructure, porosity and the mechanical properties were characterized by SEM, X-ray computer tomography and Weibull analysis. Our wet processing of minerals yields ceramics with complex shapes that show similar mechanical properties to porcelain and could serve as a technology for future Mars colonization. The best quality parts with completely vitrificated matrix supporting a few idiomorphic crystals are obtained at 1130 °C with 10 h dwell time with volume and linear shrinkage as much as ~62% and ~17% and a characteristic compressive strength of 51 MPa.