4/10/2018

Moon Alchemist: a propellant farm for the Moon (and beyond)


The 2nd edition of the Space Exploration Masters, 2018, the space innovation competition has attracted 132 new business ideas from 42 nations worldwide. Initiated by the European Space Agency (ESA) in 2017, the Space Exploration Masters has become a main pillar to implement the goals of the ESA Space Exploration strategy.


Moon Alchemist logo.
Credit: GAS

GAS team submitted the proposal Moon Alchemist which has been selected as finalist of the joint Sustainable Exploration Challenge by Airbus, Air Liquide, and Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. This challenge focuses on sustaining life and the environment on the Moon through a solution that is based on a Greenhouse or Hydrogen and Oxygen Refuelling Station on the Moon.

In-Situ Resource Utilisation (ISRU) technologies are needed to continue the exploration of the Moon (and beyond reaching to Mars and back to the Earth). ISRU allows to: decrease mission cost, increase payload capacity, increase surface access, reduce mission and crew risks, and extend mission duration. Our solution is focused on using local resources of photocatalytic materials, in particular local Moon (or Mars) regolith which is rich in TiO2, because of its basaltic (volcanic and low altered) origin. We also use the intense UV radiation of the sun, which provides photons that activate the photocatalytic properties of TiO2. This allows to design an efficient (low energy, low mass, low volume) in-situ industrial production of critical products such as H2, O2, H2O, CH4 etc. The customers of the idea are the sector of gas and propellant storage on Earth, space companies and space agencies. This idea can also be applied on Earth for water purification, CO2 sequestration, and elimination of pollutants and radicals.

Credit: GAS

The Moon Alchemist proposal has been particularly recognized for its relevance for space exploration, the team setup and competences and the competitive advantage of the proposing idea. The team was composed of Prof. Dr. María-Paz Zorzano, Prof. Dr. Javier Martín-Torres, Dr. Elizabeth Escamilla Roa (chemistry), Dr. Anshuman Bhardwaj (remote sensing) and PhD students Miracle I. Nazarious, Abhilash Vakkada, Alvaro Soria-Salinas, Thasshwin Mathanlal, Samuel Konatham, Roberto Mantas Nakhai.

The Space Exploration Masters annually awards the best business ideas providing concrete business opportunities to strengthen the benefits of Space Exploration to society with products and services. Thus, its mission is to exploit the large potential offered by Space Exploration for the creation of innovative applications and solutions. Initiated by the European Space Agency (ESA) in 2017, the Space Exploration Masters has become a main pillar to implement the goals of the ESA Space Exploration strategy.


Space Exploration Masters video.


Credits: AZO - Space of Innovation