Plasma Reduction of Lunar Regolith for In-Space Fabrication

Award Information
Agency:
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Branch
n/a
Amount:
$600,000.00
Award Year:
2007
Program:
SBIR
Phase:
Phase II
Contract:
NNM07AA23C
Agency Tracking Number:
054534
Solicitation Year:
2005
Solicitation Topic Code:
X9.01
Solicitation Number:
n/a
Small Business Information
Plasma Processes, Inc.
4914 Moores Mill Road, Huntsville, AL, 35811-1558
Hubzone Owned:
N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
N
Woman Owned:
N
Duns:
79911
Principal Investigator:
John O'Dell
Principal Investigator
(256) 851-7653
scottodell@plasmapros.com
Business Contact:
Angela Hattaway
Business Official
(256) 851-7653
ahattaway@plasmapros.com
Research Institution:
n/a
Abstract
Tools for extracting resources from the moon are needed to support future space missions. Of particular interest is the production of gases and metals for life support, propulsion, and in-space fabrication. The only practical source for these materials is the decomposition of lunar regolith. Described herein is an innovative plasma reduction technique for the production of gases and metal powders. This technique is characterized by its high temperatures and rapid quenching. During Phase 1, silicon, iron, and magnesium in crystalline form were produced using the plasma reduction technique. Based on the analysis of captured gas samples and the fact that metallic species were produced, oxygen was also evolved as a result of plasma processing. During Phase 2, the plasma techniques developed during Phase 1 will be optimized. Techniques to separate and collect pure oxygen from the regolith and the processing gases will be developed. Steps will be taken to reduce the power requirements needed for plasma reduction. Additional metals such as aluminum, titanium, and calcium will also be produced by varying processing parameters. Precise measurement of particle temperature and velocity will be performed and correlated with processing parameters and thermodynamic calculations so that these objectives can be met.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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