Imagine a paint that doesn't just color your walls but also cleans the air, emits oxygen, and could potentially be used on Mars? Scientists have now turned this idea into a reality.
Meet the Bacteria That Feeds on Sunlight
The desert-dwelling bacteria, Chroococcidiopsis cubana, forms the base of this innovative concept. This bacteria is known to feed on sunlight, absorb carbon dioxide, and emit oxygen. Noteworthy is the bacteria's survival ability in harsh conditions, like extreme darkness or deep beneath the ocean floor. These unique characteristics make it a potential candidate for Mars colonization in the future.
Creating a ‘Living Paint’
In a remarkable scientific achievement, researchers have developed a biocoating. This ‘living paint' uses Chroococcidiopsis cubana. The paint is known to emit a measurable amount of oxygen daily, and, in turn, reduces carbon dioxide levels in the air.
Developing the Biocoating
The development of the biocoating was a complex process. It required not only the ability to provide hydration and cell transport but also to withstand harsh conditions. This meant the coating had to be porous but also robust and hard. To achieve this balance, the team mixed latex with nanoclay particles. The result was a biocoating that safely encapsulated the bacteria, creating a hardy ‘living paint.'
The ‘living paint' was put to the test, and the results were promising. For a month, the paint consistently emitted oxygen and absorbed carbon dioxide. This innovative solution could potentially supplement air in habitats on Mars and reduce increasing carbon dioxide levels on Earth.
Mars Colonization Application
While this technique may not provide enough oxygen for a long-term Mars habitat, it makes an important contribution. Every bit of oxygen that can be produced on Mars could reduce the amount that needs to be transported from Earth, making this bacteria-based paint a potentially game-changing innovation for space exploration.