In March 2015, PISCES in collaboration with the Hawaiʻi County Dept. of Research and Development, the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, NASA and Kodiak FRP Rebar installed a ‘lunar sidewalk’ in downtown Hilo on Hawaiʻi Island using basalt-based construction materials. The sidewalk consisted of three slabs of experimental concrete, each with unique binding agents as part of a trial process to see which held up best over time. These included a fly-ash basalt paver, a baked basalt paver, and a fly-ash binder reinforced with Kodiak FRP basalt rebar.

After a one-year assessment, we found the fly-ash basalt paver exceeded the durability of traditional concrete. The baked basalt pavers showed less durability, but were redesigned following the trial and used in the VT/VL Landing Pad construction project where they outperformed residential concrete. 

The lunar sidewalk experiment had two significant benefits: 1) learning to use volcanic basalt fines (a waste product of local quarries) as an alternative building material while reducing the costs of importing concrete; and 2) learning to utilize native resources on other celestial bodies for construction. 

Using Hawaiian volcanic basalt, PISCES hopes to reduce the environmental impacts associated with cement production. An estimated 5% to 7% of global CO2 emissions are a result of cement production. Additionally, Hawaiʻi pays a premium for cement, importing more than 300,000 metric tons annually—a large economic, environmental and social toll.