Scientists Make Oxygen Out of Moon Rock

Aug 11, 2009 by Lisa Zyga weblog
Scientists have developed a method to produce oxygen from moon rock. Image credit: NASA.

(PhysOrg.com) -- If humans ever create a lunar base, one of the biggest challenges will be figuring out how to breathe. Transporting oxygen to the moon is extremely expensive, so for the past several years NASA has been looking into other possibilities. One idea is extracting oxygen from moon rock.

Recently, Derek Fray, a materials chemist from the University of Cambridge, and his colleagues have built a reactor that uses oxides in Moon rocks as the cathode in an to produce oxygen.

The design is based on a process that the researchers invented in 2000 that produces carbon dioxide. In this design, the scientists pass a current between the cathode and an anode made of carbon, with both electrodes sitting in an electrolyte solution of molten calcium chloride, a common salt. The current removes oxygen atoms from the cathode, which are then ionized and dissolve in the molten salt. The negatively charged oxygen is attracted to the carbon anode, where it erodes the anode and produces carbon dioxide.

To produce oxygen rather than , the researchers made an unreactive anode using a mixture of calcium titanate and calcium ruthenate instead of the carbon. Because this anode barely erodes, the reaction between the oxygen ions and anode produces oxygen.

Based on experiments with a simulated lunar rock developed by NASA, the researchers calculate that three one-meter-tall reactors could generate one tonne of oxygen per year on the Moon. Each tonne of oxygen would require three tonnes of rock to produce. Fray noted that three reactors would require about 4.5 kilowatts of power, which could be supplied by solar panels or possibly a small on the Moon. The researchers are also working with the on developing an even larger reactor that could be operated remotely.

As a recent story in Nature News reports, other researchers are also developing methods for oxygen extraction. For instance, Donald Sadoway at MIT is working on a high-temperature technique called molten salt electrolysis. Here, the Moon rock is molten and acts as the electrolyte itself. Sadoway's reactor could even be built out of the rubble on the Moon's surface called regolith.

NASA and the ESA are strongly encouraging this type of research. In 2008, NASA boosted its $250,000 prize to $1 million for the first team to demonstrate a method to extract five kilograms of in eight hours from simulated Moon rock. So far, the prize remains unclaimed.

via: Nature News

© 2009 PhysOrg.com

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User comments : 21

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sender
4.5 / 5 (2) Aug 11, 2009
i would imagine that zeolite could be very useful for pressurized centrifugal processing of crushed up moon rocks, the 5kg target looks a lot simpler now
zevkirsh
1 / 5 (4) Aug 11, 2009
they already know how to make oxygen on mars, why waste effort on the damn moon?
sender
5 / 5 (3) Aug 11, 2009
they already know how to make oxygen on mars, why waste effort on the damn moon?


you need a nice vantage point to propel things faster than you can from the earth, the moon makes one such good stop.
slart
5 / 5 (2) Aug 11, 2009
I agree. in time we could probably build the craft to take us to Mars from moon materials
Birger
4.5 / 5 (2) Aug 11, 2009
In absence of a nuclear thermal engine for Mars missions, you could launch a rocket with a full H2 tank but an empty O2 tank from Earth to lunar orbit (the hydrogen is a small fraction of the total weight).
Send extracted oxygen from the lunar surface (v=1.6km/s), and supply the rocket with the O2. Inject the rocket in a trans-Earth trajectory (go from 1.6 to 2.6 km/s). When the rocket is passing close to Earth, start it and increase velocity from 11.2 to ca 12 km/s. Final velocity relative Earth will be ca. 5km/s. (enough for a trans-Mars trajectory) for a relatively modest amount of fuel.
sender
1.5 / 5 (2) Aug 11, 2009
Ideally we would build an ion beam power system to concentrate hydrogen in the magnetosphere and build an interplanetary transportation network stream, space fountains from the earth to the moon and then slingshot beams and construction materials/energy relay beacons towards mars
sender
not rated yet Aug 11, 2009
lewis base pairing was previously explored for hydrogen production, suppose that works also for JSC-1a processing
Bonkers
4.3 / 5 (3) Aug 12, 2009
Even Paris Hilton seems to have figured out how to breathe, astronauts shouldn't have a problem..

Providing them with enough oxygen is another matter.

What you need is something, ideally Solar-powered, that consumes the Astronaut's carbon dioxide and produces oxygen. If it could also, somehow, take all the shit they produce, render it non-hazardous and convert it into fresh food, that would be great also.
Mr_Frontier
5 / 5 (2) Aug 12, 2009
What is plants?
Ethelred
3 / 5 (2) Aug 14, 2009
Wow its the return of the SPAMMER. Yet again. Fourth time now. And yet another two sentence post. Its amazing.

I am curious what its next name will be.

Go away, just go away.

Lyrics by Blondie

Ethelred
zbarlici
not rated yet Aug 16, 2009
ahahaa, gut one, bonkers.... shit-food! :) If i were an astronaut i`d make sure i get paid extra for that one! :)
QubitTamer
1.5 / 5 (4) Aug 16, 2009
Just need lots of unshielded nuclear reactors laying around up there for all the power... Read a report years and years ago about how nasa planned to use the moon as our jump-off point to the solar system by doing exactly this kind of thing, using the naturally occurring resources of the moon and electromagnetic railgun launchers all powered by lightweight nuclear fission reactors built over the course of 40 or 50 years of robotic missions from earth... With no environment to have to protect you can just go up and build stuff and clean up later...

Ethelred, look forward to your reaction to my comment. I've been otherwise occupied for a couple weeks so havent had the pleasure of your unique and singular dislike of ANYONE elses ideas...
Ethelred
5 / 5 (1) Aug 16, 2009
. I've been otherwise occupied for a couple weeks so havent had the pleasure of your unique and singular dislike of ANYONE elses ideas...


When you quit lying about being a physicist I might bother caring about your usual idiot posts. In the meantime your still an idiot even without that last bit of stupidity. Giving me a one for dealing with a returning spammer is stupid even by your exceeding low standards. So you get more ones for that. One for the first two the second and so one. Have someone do the rest of the math for you.

Also for looking for trouble with me you get the rest of the month in my signature. I guess you just want everyone to know just how foolish you are. As if it wasn't clear enough already. Do let us know when take your first class in physics.

Ethelred

From QubitTamer's fake profile

Quantum Physicist, torturer of AGW religious zealots like Ethelred because i laugh at his hysterics.


Qubitwit gets the rest of August in my signature for aiming his idiocy at me.
QubitTamer
1 / 5 (2) Aug 16, 2009
Ethelred you are gonna die of stress dude. Really I am trying to help you here. You seem to attack EVERYONE. Why are you so high strung dude?
QubitTamer
1 / 5 (2) Aug 16, 2009
Is it because of this:

http://en.wikiped..._Unready
Ethelred
5 / 5 (1) Aug 17, 2009
Qubitwit

Do not mistake yourself for everyone. And defending a spammer is stupid even for you.

If you are just too unaware to notice that aafinko is the exact same spammer that has been banned three times already you are far to dim to complain about anyone.

The spammer posts for one reason. The link. All else is a thin camouflage. The longest post from it has been two sentences.

And if I had a problem with calling myself Ethelred I would have changed the Handle. I have been using it online for over a decade. And you missed something much worse.

There is a sick disgusting vile racist psychotic worthless piece of semi-human filth using the same handle on StormFront, a place even you would certainly find is too far into pseudo right wing fantasy land. And that isn't going to get me to change my handle either. He can change his.

Get a clue.

Of course if you want the signature to go away before the end of August you could apologize for attacking me to defend a spammer. Such rational behavior would be very unusual for you but a change for the better.

I don't really expect it from you but people can change for the better.

Ethelred AKA Ethlred and Ethelred Hardrede

Sorry for the new signature. But It Needed Killun.

From QubitTamer's fake profile

Quantum Physicist, torturer of AGW religious zealots like Ethelred because i laugh at his hysterics.


Qubitwit gets the rest of August in my signature for aiming his idiocy at me. Again.
QubitTamer
1 / 5 (1) Aug 17, 2009
Add me in FOREVER dude. i just dont care, as long as I know i have YOU wrapped. you know you are EXACTLY the same person as Oliver K Manuel, so SURE you see things that no one else does.... At least as a junior researcher and laboratory tech i remain very open minded to new science and ideas... it saddens me to see people become so overwhelmed in their own preoccupations with making people think exactly like them. And i don't give a shit about any spammer. Unlike you i don't feel a god complex about fixing the internet... So your psyche unravels some more... another Aethelred on a Nazi site. Your need to be supreme and unique is... cute!
QubitTamer
1 / 5 (1) Aug 18, 2009
Oh and while it IS possible to prove some negative facts such as "HMS Vigilance is not docked at Surrey Port" it is not possible for you to prove that i am not actually a quantum physicist any more than you can prove that my father's name is not Floyd.

Ethelred
5 / 5 (1) Aug 18, 2009
i just dont care, as long as I know i have YOU wrapped.


You are so delusional. This is fun, not warped, nor is it in any way hard on me. I LIKE showing that twits are just twits. Up to a point anyway. It gets boring and I don't like bullies so I don't like looking like one beating up on the incompetent.

You need to do better job of being an opponent. Show some humor. Real humor not those lame ass attempts at irony.

ou know you are EXACTLY the same person as Oliver K Manuel,


Really? SO you think that I have delusions that the Sun has an iron core? And that, well I won't go into it but you can do a search on Oliver. Barakn keeps giving him ones for reasons that have nothing to do with his posts. It has to do with his past. Barakn actually posted what he thinks if the reason for Oliver's peculiar behavior and he posted links. I confirmed them and found stuff that went farther. It is not mere rumors anymore. Do your own research and then apologize for claiming he and are alike.

Heck you should do it anyway for supporting a spammer, clearly by mistake. If you had noticed what he was I think even you would not have chose that moment to engage in such a silly attack. And no I don't expect you to apologize as that would be a sign that you have begun to actually start thinking about things.

so SURE you see things that no one else does...


Nonsense. Except for Oliver's past that is. It is his present as well. And even then Barakn is the one that found it. I only confirmed it.

And i don't give a shit about any spammer.


Then why did you defend it? You and I both know the answer. You were conned. You thought the post had meaning. Hey even P. T. Barnum got conned. Hell even I once took The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge seriously. I would be embarrassed about that but UCLA gave Carlos Castaneda a Phd for the appendix in that book and it was a total fabrication so he conned others as well.

Unlike you i don't feel a god complex about fixing the internet.


You have a complex about global warming and any research that bothers your tightly shuttered mind. Sure is hypocritical of you to complain about me criticizing poor theory when you constantly do it yourself with dubious research and sometimes with good research you simply don't like.

Oliver's research is fine. His larger conclusions are a sign that he should have stuck to research and left theory to others. I keep suspecting that some strange religious thinking is involved but only ran across one reference to the LDS and it wasn't directly related to him.

. So your psyche unravels some more.


You are truly delusional on this. As usual. For instance if your comments bothered me so much do you really think I would use them in my signature?

another Aethelred on a Nazi site.


No. Ethelred. And no it doesn't actually bother me. It was fun to find ways describe him. I think did better this second time than I did the first. I am pretty sure he would find it entertaining to be disliked by a non-lunatic at least until he managed to figure out that I was making fun of him. He thinks he is hardcore and he named himself after the Unready one. A Saxon that got walked on by the Norse. What a maroon.

My handle is from Ethelred the Armourer. Yes its fictional.

Your need to be supreme and unique is... cute!


I am cute. Just ask the girls, well cute for 58 anyway. Not supreme though. Everyone is unique. Even twins.

--------------------------------------

it is not possible for you to prove that i am not actually a quantum physicist any more than you can prove that my father's name is not Floyd.


It IS possible to prove a negative for some cases. Just hard. However in your case I can show reasonable doubt. Indeed this latest post of yours gives enough for any reasonable person to have reasonable doubt. That 'lark' remark you made is still out there. And the botched math that was the strongest clue before your replies made it much clearer.

If you simply quit being such a bloody fool I wouldn't have so many things to twit you with. I can find other people to do that to should I so desire. I didn't go looking for anyone, not even you. People just insist on presenting themselves as targets.

Really I would much rather that you became a competent person than be a target for derision. If nothing else I am disappointed in myself for not doing a better job of being funny at your expense. Maybe I am just not as good at as I used to be.

But your profile it doing such a fine job for me.

Ethelred

Sorry for the new signature. But It Needed Killun.

From QubitTamer's fake profile

Quantum Physicist, torturer of AGW religious zealots like Ethelred because i laugh at his hysterics.


Qubitwit gets the rest of August in my signature for aiming his idiocy at me. Again.
QubitTamer
1 / 5 (1) Aug 18, 2009
Keep paying out the malarky... I look forward to it all day! I write like 30 seconds of stuff and you dedicate probably a whole half hour of your life to responding... i have you totally wrapped!
Ethelred
5 / 5 (1) Aug 18, 2009
i have you totally wrapped!


Ahh the delusions of trolls. They are to be pitied.

Ethelred

Sorry for the new signature. But It Needed Killun.

From QubitTamer's fake profile

Quantum Physicist, torturer of AGW religious zealots like Ethelred because i laugh at his hysterics.


Qubitwit gets the rest of August in my signature for aiming his idiocy at me. Again.