Beer Waste May Help Us Eventually Live On Mars
Photo: amdandy (Getty)
Since we live in a time when you can now buy tickets to space, the idea of a family trip to Mars isn’t all that far-fetched. Granted, there are still plenty of hurdles to jump along the way, but it appears one unlikely source might be the answer we may need to eventually call space home – beer.
Researchers at Colorado University Boulder recently discovered a transparent aerogel brewed from beer by-product, known as “beer wort.” That gel-like beer waste, given its super-insulating and ultra-transparent properties, as well as extreme lack of weight, could prove vital for building greenhouse-like habitats for Mars or Moon colonists one day.
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“Aerogels are extremely porous solid objects that are made mostly from air and are about 100 times less dense than glass panes. Our aerogel is made from nanocellulose, which is grown by bacteria that eat waste beer wort, a waste byproduct of the beer industry,” Ivan Smalyukh, a physics professor at the University of Colorado Boulder, told Digital Trends.
The science behind aerogels is nothing new, as many modern items currently use the technology like bricks, tiny houses and winter jackets. However, the researchers at the university have come up with the ability to make the aerogels translucent, something that was previously unattainable. The breakthrough will allow for windows that provide complete insulation while still providing an eye to the outside.
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While the research team, recently named one of the winners of NASA’s 2018 iTech competition, hopes that their technology will eventually find its way into space, the more immediate need is currently right here on Earth. The Department of Energy says around one-quarter of the energy that is expended to heat and cool buildings in the United States goes toward offsetting the loss of heat through windows, which costs building operators billions of dollars every year.
Structures built with the new aerogel technology would not only allow for proper insulation but would also allow the buildings to trap heat inside, which could be used for sustainable growth or new power sources. So, pretty much, beer is the reason why global warming will eventually subside and we’ll, at some point, colonize space.
So pack your bags, kids. You might be going be on a family space-cation before long.