Since it was first isolated in 2004 at the University of Manchester, graphene has been touted as a great material that can significantly improve the strength of buildings and machinery around the world. Now a healthy carbon allotrope is ready to go into space to strengthen future astronaut habitats.
An international team led by Dr. Vivek Conchery of the University of Manchester is developing a prototype for the graphene-enhanced space habitat. According to Koncherry, whom we contacted by email, material will help balance the mass contrasting temperatures to which a the spatial structure is subjectedwhich makes it safer for its future occupants.
“There are extreme temperature fluctuations on opposite sides of the space structure. Graphene is the best thermally conductive material and we can take advantage of this property to balance the heat difference.” says Conchery. “In addition, graphene hardens the material, improving the resistance to damage caused by micrometeoroids and space debris.”
The team at the University of Manchester is collaborating the world architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), the architects behind the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, to develop the space habitat, which is designed for low Earth orbit. Another researcher at the University of Manchester, Dr. Aled Roberts, recently proposed a very different material, human blood, as a binding agent which could strengthen space habitats in a future resourceless colony on Mars.
Space graphene research has applications here on Earth
The scaled-down prototype of the University of Manchester team will consist of pressure vessels designed to function in space, although their work has applications on Earth, says Conchery: “There are several applications, especially civilian structures on Earth, where graphene can used in composites for beams, bars, facades, etc. Graphene can also help improve the properties of recycled materials for construction applications. “
IN press release,, Daniel Inosente, senior designer at SOM in New York, said that “conducting graphene-based research allows us to test lightweight materials and design processes that could improve the efficiency of composite structures for potential applications on Earth and future use. in space”. Other innovations in graphene have also become titles in recent months, including the first in the world road lining flowing into graphene on the British A1 motorway and the ability of the material to spread widely increase the capacity of the sodium ion battery.
With space agencies such as NASA, Roscosmos and the European Space Agency (ESA), which aim to launch a permanent presence in space in the coming years with projects such as the lunar portal and the landing of the moon on Artemis, the race is to build safer habitats that effectively incorporate life support systems. Conchery says he and his team are working hard on the first large-scale model of their space habitat prototype, and once that is complete, they will work with space agencies to produce a full-scale model that can be launched into space orbit. tests.