Although large amounts of water and oxygen are present on the moon, the materials are not readily available.
That’s why scientists from the Polytechnic University of Milan, the European Space Agency, the Italian Space Agency and the Space Systems Corporation OHB have developed a new technique for collecting elements from anywhere on the moon’s surface, press release reveals.
Extraction of materials for the survival of the moon
Collaborating scientists have developed a two-step process based on existing techniques used on Earth for applications in industrial chemistry. The technique will allow astronauts to take advantage of the fact that approximately 50 percent of lunar soil consists of silicon or iron oxides, both of which are composed of approximately 26 percent oxygen. These materials are abundant all over the surface of the moon, which means that the new technique can be implemented quickly from any landing site.
In laboratory tests, researchers heated simulated lunar soil in a furnace temperatures around 1000 degrees ºC. They did this in the presence of hydrogen and methane to evaporate the soil, causing oxygen-rich materials to convert directly from solid to gas. A catalyst was then used to separate the gases and the residual methane to extract water. The water from this process is drinkable and can also be used to extract oxygen by electrolysis. The hydrogen and methane left over from the process can also be reused for other purposes, such as biofuel, while a solid by-product rich in silica and metals can possibly be recycled for building materials — eventually going crazier. ideas such as collecting blood from astronauts as a bonding agent for building materials.
“Almost completely self-contained closed loop”
Moreover, Prof. Michèle Lavagna of the Polytechnic University of Milan, one of the project’s researchers, explained that the platform used for their technique could be used in an “almost completely self-contained closed loop, without the need for human intervention and without you get stuck. “He also added that” the ability to have efficient facilities for producing water and oxygen on site is essential for human research and for conducting high-quality science directly on the moon. “
Scientists from around the world are working hard on new techniques to gather material for future missions outside the world. In April, NASA announced that its rover mission Perseverance had completed a historic first time by retrieving first breathing oxygen from Mars with an experimental instrument called MOXIE. California-based company Masten Space Systems, meanwhile development of a rover which could use controlled explosions to collect lunar ice, which could be turned into drinking water and oxygen for future lunar bases. NASA may be recently postpone your plans to send people to the moon by 2024, but the scientific community has continued to deliver innovative new methods to help the survival of future lunar astronauts.