Many folks would like to see us back on the Moon and developing its resources.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Good day, Lunar Resource Utilization, practice here, now.

Back in 1957, I suggested in my chemistry class that Porta-Potties should pay you by the pound for their use. I was booed, the idea of finding a profitable use for human excrement didn't seem like something they thought would be useful. Somehow plastics from poop wasn't their thing. I probably would have been sued for patent infringement also.

It is now 2006 and we still haven't mastered the technique of recycling what we use on the International Space Station. We also blame farm animals for contributing to global warming by contributing to the generation of methane gas. Land fills leak gases that smell and burn. Some are collecting this gas and burning it to create steam for electric power generation but not enough.

Let us hope that there are studies going on in our colleges and don't forget to do your patent search as others have already obtained patents and will probably want their royalties should you decide to make something useful on the Moon or Mars.
- LRK -

Shall we look more at what will be required to live on the Moon?

Maybe we will find some things useful for here on Earth as well.

Thanks for looking up.

Larry Kellogg

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"Engineering is the professional art of applying science to the optimum conversion of natural resources to the benefit of man."
-Ralph J. Smith (1962)

Resource utilization will play an important role in the establishment and support of a permanently manned lunar base. The identification of new and innovative technologies will insure the success, sustainability and growth of a future lunar base. These new technologies will certainly utilize lunar resources. Lunar resources can be used to supply replenishables such as oxygen, fuel, water and construction materials. These materials would otherwise have to be brought from Earth at considerable expense.

Lunar resources include oxygen from the lunar soil, water from the poles and a supply of volatile gases. One of the most significant steps towards self-sufficiency and independence from the Earth will be the use of lunar materials for construction.

At least seven major potential lunar construction materials have been identified. These include:

* concrete
* sulfur concrete
* cast basalt
* sintered basalt
* fiberglass
* cast glass
* metals

All of these materials may be used to construct a future lunar base. The basalt materials can be formed out of lunar regolith (soil) by a simple process of heating and cooling, and are the most likely to be used to build the first bases.


Table of Contents

* Preface
* List of Participants


* I-1 Systems Engineering Overview for Regenerative Life-Support Systems
Applicable to Space Habitats. Jack Spurlock and Mike Modell
* References

* I-2 Research Planning Criteria for Regenerative Life-Support Systems
Applicable to Space Habitats. Jack Spurlong, William Cooper,Paul Deal,
Annita Harlan, Marcus Karel, Michael Modell, Paul Moe, John Phillips, David
Putnam, Philip Quattrone, C. David Raper, Jr., Elliot Swan, Frieda Taub,
Judith Thomas, Christine Wilson, and Ben Zeitman
* References

NASA SP-509, vol. 3
NASA SP-509, vol. 4
Social Concerns



One of the main projects at the Space Technologies Laboratory is oxygen
production. Oxygen production is done through an electrochemical cell made
from Zirconia. At elevated temperatures (T>1000 C) Zirconia is an excellent
oxygen ion conductor. In the prescence of an applied potential the
electrolyte will pump oxygen from the cathode to anode.


[Back in 1996 - What is going on now? - LRK -]
This is a quarter-scale model of a lunar-lander, designed and initially
constructed by the spacecraft design class. It features robotic motion
controlled by an on-board processor.

The purpose of this model is to show how an ISRU (In Situ Resource
Utilization) payload can function atop a lunar lander platform. The payload
designed here was designed for the Artemis common lunar lander.

The mission of the payload is to be a proof-of-concept for oxygen production
on the moon. The objective of this payload is to produce oxygen from lunar
soil, using techniques developed here at the University of Arizona .

The process is as follows:

1. The arm acquires a soil sample from around the lander.
2. The arm raises. As it does, the lunar regolith transverses down
through the hollow arm, into the hopper.
3. The soil sample is deposited into a crucible. Ten soil samples are
taken in all.
4. Earth-carried carbon is mixed in with each soil sample.
5. The sample (in crucible) is raised into a solar furnace. The solar
furnace consists of a primary concentrating mirror, iris, and cpc.
6. As the sample is heated, it releases carbon monoxide. This carbon
monoxide is disproportionated into carbon dioxide. From the carbon dioxide,
a solid-oxide electrolysis process is used to convert the carbon dioxide
into oxygen.
7. The oxygen is detected by an oxygen detector.

This model depicts only a proof-of-concept device. A cheap proof-of-concept
mission needs to occur to demonstrate the ability of the technolgy to
provide for the needs of the mission. After a successful proof-of-concept,
the funds for a full oxygen-prod uction facility could be secured and a
complete mission planned. A complete mission may be an oxygen production
faciliry for a lunar base or Martian outpost.


NASA SBIR 2005 Solicitation
PROPOSAL NUMBER: 05 X9.01-8819
SUBTOPIC TITLE: In-Situ Resource Utilization & Space Manufacturing
PROPOSAL TITLE: In Situ Oxygen Production from Lunar and Martian Regolith

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Lynntech, Inc.
7607 Eastmark Drive, Suite 102
College Station ,TX 77840 - 4027
(979) 693 - 0017

City/State/Zip, Phone)
Brian Hennings
7607 Eastmark Drive, Suite 102
College Station, TX 77840 -4027
(979) 693 - 0017

In situ oxygen production is of immense importance to NASA in the support of
the NASA initiative to sustain man's permanent presence in space. The oxygen
produced can be used as breathable oxygen, as a source of fuel for Moon or
Mars based vehicles (for either return to Earth or as a basis for further
space exploration), or as a source of oxygen for fuel cell or other power
generating devices. Lynntech proposes to use plasma technology to liberate
the oxygen bound in the oxides of regolith to produce oxygen in situ on
either the moon or Mars. Lynntech's innovative solid feedstock plasma
reformer is simple, robust and unaffected by variations in the composition
or particle size of the regolith. Lynntech has previously demonstrated the
principle of plasma reformation on a variety of projects and has preliminary
results demonstrating the technology proposed here. Lynntech is currently
developing plasma reformers for the US Air Force capable of producing
several SCFM of hydrogen from JP-8 as well as multi-fuel (gas/liquid)
capable reformers. A small (< 10W) plasma reformer has also been
demonstrated for the production of hydrogen on Titan for NASA.

With little or no modification, Lynntech's plasma-based oxygen generation
system could be used to produce oxygen from the Martian atmosphere. The
atmosphere on Mars consists largely of CO2 (~95%) and is saturated with
dust. Preliminary experiments with a Lynntech reformer indicate that CO2 can
be reformed to solid carbon and gaseous O2. The dust in the atmosphere does
not harm our system; rather it contributes to the oxygen content of the
product stream, as it is broken down into constituents, similar to the CO2.

Another NASA application for a space-bound plasma system is in the
production of hydrogen from hydrocarbon rich atmospheres (such as the
methane saturated Saturn moon, Titan), either for buoyancy, power or
propulsion. Lynntech has already successfully demonstrated a 10-Watt methane
reformer that produces hydrogen from 100K to 300K and weighs less than 500g
for the production of make-up hydrogen for a balloon operating on Titan.

The plasma-based system can also be used in several ground-based, non-NASA
commercial applications as well. One of these is solid waste processing.
With only small modifications, the plasma system proposed could be used to
reform solid waste into high value components (i.e. hydrogen and carbon for
most hydrocarbon chains, such as plastics and organics). The high value
constituents are contingent upon the feedstock, and thus are as diverse.

Alternatively, the plasma system could be used to process liquid or gaseous
waste streams also. One particularly attractive area is the reformation of
used and dirty hydrocarbon wastes from automobiles. These wastes include
motor oil, greases, transmission and brake fluids, which can be reformed
into products such as hydrogen and nano-structured carbon materials. The
process is immune to changes in the feedstock, and mixtures of hydrocarbons
can be fed directly to produce a 90+% hydrogen stream prior to clean-up.

NASA's technology taxonomy has been developed by the SBIR-STTR program to
disseminate awareness of proposed and awarded R/R&D in the agency. It is a
listing of over 100 technologies, sorted into broad categories, of interest
to NASA.

In-situ Resource Utilization
Form Printed on 09-19-05 13:12


Lunar Oxygen Production Plant: Specification Sheet
Olivier Dubois-Matra
August 1995

The purpose of the Oxygen Production Demonstration Plant (O2 plant) is to
test in-situ one or two process(es) of oxygen production from lunar minerals
in order to prove the possibility of large-scale production for a manned
base (fuel and life support). Several processes are under study, and some of
them are currently adapted for lunar environment [Gibson & all]. However,
there exists no plan yet for a small, automated demonstration plant which
could be the payload of a small lander. Therefore, considerable work remains
to be done to design this device. The following figures are only a first
rough estimation based on laboratory experiments. Accurate figures would
required a complete design.

The processes considered here are based on the reduction of ilmenite at high
temperature. Ilmenite (FeTiO3) is a common mineral in the lunar soil, and is
the most likely source of lunar oxygen [Allen & all]. Other potential
feedstocks are volcanic glass and basalt. The ilmenite can be reduced either
by hydrogen [Gibson & all] or by carbon [Ramohalli & all]. The respective
reactions are :

FeTiO3 + H2 ---> Fe + TiO2 + H2O
H2O ---> H2 + 1/2 O2

FeTiO3 + C ---> Fe + TiO2 + CO
CO ---> C + 1/2 O2

Since we got relatively few information on the carbon process, figures
are given only for a H2-type plant. The reasons for the selection of
ilmenite reduction can be found in the WORLD-M proposal. Other processes may
be contemplate.



Apparatus for manufacture of oxygen from lunar ilmenite
Document: United States Patent 5536378

Abstract: A reactor apparatus for production of Lunar oxygen uses feed
stocks comprising a particulate hydrogen-reducible enriched feed in the size
range from about 20-200 microns, containing 80-90% Lunar ilmenite
(FeTiO.sub.3) and ferrous Lunar agglutinates. The reactor apparatus has
three vertically spaced fluidized zones with downcomers from the upper to
the central fluidized zone and openings for introducing a
hydrogen-containing gas stream through the lower fluidized zone. A
solid-to-gas RF-dielectric heater has a ceramic honeycomb with small
parallel channels separated by thin, ceramic walls and electrodes
surrounding the honeycomb connected to an external RF power source for
heating the gas stream to a reducing reaction temperature. A top inlet
introduces the enriched feed into the upper fluidized zone for fluidization
therein and flow into middle and lower fluidized zones countercurrent to the
flow of the gas stream. A solid-state electrolyzer is composed of calcium
oxide- or yttrium oxide-stabilized zirconia ceramic fabricated by sintering
or slipcasting into a perforated cylindrical shape having platinum
electrodes on outer and inner longitudinal surfaces thereof. The
electrolyzer cylinder is mounted inside two disk-shaped, impermeable ceramic
baffles and centered inside a refractory-lined metal pressure shell. Gaseous
effluent containing an equilibrium amount of water from the central
fluidized zone passes through the electrolyzer for continuous electrolysis
of the water. Apparatus is provided for separating oxygen from the
electrolyzer and recycling hydrogen to the gas stream.

============================================================= 58 page PDF file. 2.6 MB
Lunar Oxygen Production Detailed Design Review

Colorado School of Mines Lunar Exploration Team
Colorado School of Mines
1523 Illinois St
Golden, CO 80401




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