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Center Innovation Fund: KSC CIF

Advanced Additive Manufacturing Feedstock from Molten Regolith Electrolysis

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

Advanced Additive Manufacturing Feedstock from Molten Regolith Electrolysis
Demonstrate the feasibility of Molten Regolith Electrolysis (MRE) Reactor start by initiating resistive-heating of the regolith past its melting point using electrical energy from the MRE electrode, taking this technology from TRL 1 to TRL3 and demonstrate the first use of metal products of MRE as feedstock for additive manufacturing of metal parts by a state-of-the-art 3D print technology. Containing corrosive oxide mixtures at operating temperatures in excess of 1500ºC (2730 ºF), determine the reactor start sequence, achieve longevity of electrodes and the regular removal of products from the reactor are the challenges faced. Design and fabricate first heater/electrode element. Select alloy compositions, synthesis approach, and cast first alloys. Design wire or powder fabrication experiment for feedstock production. Iterate design, and fabrication of the heater/electrode element. Produce feedstock batches and iterate. Characterize the metal feedstock (mechanical, electrical and thermal properties.) Demonstrate the effectiveness of the designed electrode/heating element by melting regolith using only the electrode/heating device in a large crucible inside a box furnace. Iteratively fabricate metal with improved feedstock. Characterize the representative parts. Perform microstructure analysis using scanning electron microscope and transmission electron microscope. More »

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