Hydrogen Plasma Reduction of Lunar Regolith for In-Space Fabrication

Award Information
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Branch: N/A
Contract: NNM06AA67C
Agency Tracking Number: 054534
Amount: $70,000.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2006
Solicitation Year: 2005
Solicitation Topic Code: X9.01
Solicitation Number: N/A
Small Business Information
4914 Moores Mill Road, Huntsville, AL, 35811-1558
DUNS: 79911
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 John O'Dell
 Principal Investigator
 (256) 851-7653
Business Contact
 Timothy McKechnie
Title: President
Phone: (256) 851-7653
Email: timmck@plasmapros.com
Research Institution
Tools for extracting resources from the moon are needed to support future space missions. Of particular interest is the production of raw materials for in-space fabrication. In addition, oxygen and water for habitat and propulsion purposes is needed. The only practical source for these materials is the decomposition of lunar soil, regolith. Proposed herein is an innovative hydrogen plasma reduction technique for the production of nanosize metal powders and water from lunar regolith. This technique is characterized by its high temperatures and rapid quenching. Due to the extremely high temperatures involved, material injected into the plasma flame can be vaporized and dissociated very rapidly into elemental form. Rapid quenching of the vapor prevents the growth of nucleated products while providing insufficient time for them to recombine with the oxygen. This allows the possibility of producing nanosize metal powders and the generation of water vapor. The result of this program will be the development of a lunar regolith hydrogen plasma reduction method for producing nanosize metal powders for in-space fabrication and water vapor for life-support, habitat, and propulsion use.

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

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