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Turning moon dust into oxygen

Date: 01 December 2020 Tags: Space


Engineers are working on a technology that extracts oxygen from lunar dust, releasing metal as a by-product that could be utilized for the construction of moon based equipment.



The dust contains almost 45 percent oxygen and iron and titanium, which will be used as ‘metal'.



  • It could be an early step to establishing an extra-terrestrial oxygen extraction plant. This would help to enable exploration and sustain life on the Moon while avoiding the enormous cost of sending materials from Earth.

  • Scientists will heat the simulated moon dust and calcium chloride salt to 950 degrees Celsius and then split the 02 with an electric current, leaving the metal alloys.

  • The process is expected to generate about 95 percent of oxygen in 50 hours, with at least 75 percent extraction in just the first 15 hours.

  • The extracted oxygen will be used as rocket fuel and breathing air for settlers in the future. The project is part of ESA’s preparations to establish a permanent lunar presence.

  • Scientists will tinker with the process by adjusting the electrical current and reagents to boost the amount of oxygen, while trying to reduce the temperature needed to produce it.

  • They will also work to reduce the size of the chamber the process takes place in so that it can be transported efficiently to the Moon. 

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