Graphene was first found out in 2004 at The University of Manchester. It is known to increase the strength of materials and buildings to an exponential level.
Now, an international team headed by Dr. Vivek Koncherry at The University of Manchester is making a prototype for the graphene-enhanced space habitat. Graphene will be used to balance the increasingly contrasting temperatures to which a space structure is subjected. This will make it safe for the future people who go and live in space.
“In a space structure, there is extreme temperature variation on opposite sides. Graphene is the best thermally conductive material, and we can take advantage of this property to balance the heat difference,” Koncherry says. “In addition, graphene toughens the material, improving damage resistance caused by micrometeoroids and space junk.”
The university is working with the architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) on the project. These architects have created Burj Khalifa in Dubai which is the tallest building in the world. Another University of Manchester researcher, Dr. Aled Roberts, gave the solution of using human blood, as a binding agent that could strengthen space habitats in Mars colonies in the future.
The prototype that is being constructed will be made up of pressurized vessels designed to function in space. Also, this project can be widely applied to the earth’s atmosphere: “there are several applications, particularly civil constructions on Earth, where graphene can be used in composites for beams, rods, facades, etc. Graphene can also help improve the properties of recycled materials for construction applications.”
In a press statement, Daniel Inocente, SOM’s senior designer in New York said that “conducting research using graphene allows us to test lightweight materials and design processes that could improve the efficacy of composite structures for potential applications on Earth and future use in space.”
Space agencies like NASA, Roscosmos, and the European Space Agency (ESA) are working on projects that will enable life in space. Therefore, this breakthrough will help sustain that life in the future and can be taken up for space trials once fully built.