A novel material for in situ construction on Mars: experiments and numerical simulations

Lin Wan, Roman Wendner, Gianluca Cusatis*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


A significant step in space exploration during the 21st century will be human settlement on Mars. Instead of transporting all the construction materials from Earth to the red planet with incredibly high cost, using Martian soil to construct a site on Mars is a superior choice. Knowing that Mars has long been considered a “sulfur-rich planet” a new construction material composed of simulated Martian soil and molten sulfur is developed. In addition to the raw material availability for producing sulfur concrete and a strength reaching similar or higher levels of conventional cementitious concrete, fast curing, low temperature sustainability, acid and salt environment resistance, 100% recyclability are appealing superior characteristics of the developed Martian Concrete. In this study, different percentages of sulfur are investigated to obtain the optimal mixing proportions. Three point bending, unconfined compression and splitting tests were conducted to determine strength development, strength variability, and failure mechanisms. The test results show that the strength of Martian Concrete doubles that of sulfur concrete utilizing regular sand. It is also shown that the particle size distribution plays an important role in the mixture's final strength. Furthermore, since Martian soil is metal rich, sulfates and, potentially, polysulfates are also formed during high temperature mixing, which might contribute to the high strength. The optimal mix developed as Martian Concrete has an unconfined compressive strength of above 50 MPa. The formulated Martian Concrete is simulated by the Lattice Discrete Particle Model (LDPM), which exhibits excellent ability in modeling the material response under various loading conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)222-231
Number of pages10
JournalConstruction and Building Materials
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016


  • Bending
  • Compression
  • High strength
  • Lattice Discrete Particle Model
  • Martian Concrete
  • Particle size distribution
  • Space construction
  • Sulfur concrete
  • Waterless concrete

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Materials Science(all)


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