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Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Tech Transfer

Hydrogen Plasma Reduction of Lunar Regolith for In-Space Fabrication, Phase I

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

Hydrogen Plasma Reduction of Lunar Regolith for In-Space Fabrication, Phase I
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. More »

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This is a historic project that was completed before the creation of TechPort on October 1, 2012. Available data has been included. This record may contain less data than currently active projects.