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SBIR Phase II:Protoflight Design and Validation of Molten Regolith Electrolysis Facility For Lunar In-Situ Resource Utilization
Phone: (617) 253-3487
Phone: (617) 253-3487
The broader impact/commercial potential of this Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project seeks to open the path for resource extraction on the Moon, creating an in-space manufacturing industry, allowing for a permanent presence on the Moon, and expanding the ability to explore the inner planets of the solar system. The technology may result in the ability of humans to operate and live in space: building state-of-the-art research infrastructure, exploring the solar system, creating a space economy independent of Earth, and moving terrestrial manufacturing and power generation into space.This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project may provide new insights into electrorefining metal oxide feedstocks, specifically lunar regolith simulants, through high-temperature electrolysis to yield oxygen and metals. Additionally, the proposed technology will address anode stability and advance studies in novel platinum group metal anodes. The team will use multi-physics modeling for high-temperature electrolysis and for modeling low gravity and lunar vacuum environments. The project may result in the ability to extract oxygen and raw metals from lunar regoliths advancing research in space resource extraction efforts. This advancement in knowledge may aide in the research and development efforts in the fields of materials science, inorganic chemistry, and metallurgy which could result in the carbon-free production of steel and other metals on Earth, new anode materials for high-temperature electrolysis, new electrochemical processes for electrorefining raw feedstocks, and the ability to source oxygen and metals from the Moon and other planetary bodies.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. *