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SBIR Phase II:High Power Microwave Robot for Industrial Extra-Terrestrial Resource Extraction

Award Information
Agency: National Science Foundation
Branch: N/A
Contract: 2304615
Agency Tracking Number: 2304615
Amount: $999,117.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: SP
Solicitation Number: NSF 22-552
Solicitation Year: 2022
Award Year: 2023
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2023-10-01
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2025-09-30
Small Business Information
2031 E. Foothill Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91107
United States
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Mohsen Yazdani
 (310) 953-5151
Business Contact
 Mohsen Yazdani
Phone: (310) 953-5151
Research Institution

The broader impact of this Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project is to improve space exploration over the next two decades. New space missions are being planned and executed at an increasing rate by countries and companies around the world. A novel space ecosystem is developing, especially with respect to the Moon. Over 30 lunar missions are planned for the next 10 years. The focus of this technology is to develop an antenna capable of projecting microwave beams into lunar rock with pinpoint accuracy. This innovation will have the commercial impact of enhancing digging and tunneling on the lunar surface creating landing pads, living quarters, and producing water and fuel with over 40% greater efficiency than other methods. Furthermore, this technology holds promise for improving mining on Earth too. As society transitions from a fossil fuel to an electric infrastructure, the demand for critical battery minerals is projected to increase 6 times by 2040. The innovation can streamline the processing of minerals by 50%, helping to meet this increasing demand that conventional approaches cannot meet. In summary, this project is about transforming lunar exploration and Earth mining, and enabling space exploration and the transition from fossil fuels._x000D_
This SBIR Phase II project develops and validates the critical hardware subcomponents of the microwave antenna system, which are characterized by a compact array of high-power elements operating in phase. The distinctiveness of the design is its ability to increase the intensity of the microwave beam at a significant distance in front of the antenna. The beam weakens rock by directly injecting heat deep into it, which will simplify mineral extraction by making rock processing faster and more energy efficient. The antenna hardware itself is exposed to significantly lower electromagnetic stresses, allowing it to operate in extreme environments. Key Phase II project tasks are verifying the manufacturability of the antenna array; confirming its capabilities using testing on beam-forming, low-power reflection; and testing the capability to focus and steer a beam with high precision. Detailed electromagnetic measurements will fully characterize the antenna and confirm its high power and low power performance in the areas of the near-field radiation pattern, cross and co-polarization, reflected power, beam forming capability, antenna efficiency, and its ability to generate a high electric field density within a desired and steerable focal point._x000D_
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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