New Process Cooks Water/Oxygen From Moon Rocks

by | Sep 29, 2021 | Daily Space, Moon | 0 comments

New Process Cooks Water/Oxygen From Moon Rocks
IMAGE: Artist impression of a Moon Base concept. CREDIT: ESA – P. Carril

A consortium of engineers presented data at the Europlanet Science Congress 2021 that shows just how water and oxygen can be extracted from lunar soil, one of the objectives to support future bases on the Moon. Per their press release, the process works like this: In the experimental set-up, the soil simulant is vaporized in the presence of hydrogen and methane, then “washed” with hydrogen gas. Heated by a furnace to temperatures of around 1000 degrees Celsius, the minerals turn directly from a solid to a gas, missing out a molten phase, which reduces the complexity of the technology needed. Gases produced and residual methane are sent to a catalytic converter and a condenser that separates out water. Oxygen can then be extracted through electrolysis. By-products of methane and hydrogen are recycled in the system.

Prof Michèle Lavagna, who led the experiments, notes: Our experiments show that the rig is scalable and can operate in an almost completely self-sustained closed loop, without the need for human intervention and without getting clogged up.

Congrats to the team on moving forward with in situ resource management.

More Information

EPSC press release

Water production from lunar regolith through carbothermal reduction modelling through ground experiments,” Michelle Lavagna et al., 2021 September 13-24, European Planetary Science Congress 2021

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