Volatile and Ice-bearing Regolith Processing, Enrichment and Recovery

SCHEME: Industrial Fellowships

CALL: 2018

DOMAIN: MS - Materials, Physics and Engineering

FIRST NAME: Joshua

LAST NAME: Rasera

INDUSTRY PARTNERSHIP / PPP: Yes

INDUSTRY / PPP PARTNER: ispace Europe SA

HOST INSTITUTION: Imperial College London

KEYWORDS: ISRUMoonWaterBeneficiationMaterial HandlingSpace Resources

START:

END:

WEBSITE:

Submitted Abstract

It is estimated that the Moon has 6 billion tons of water ice at its poles. Future space missions will use this abundant water as fuel and life support for further travel. However, the material processing, enrichment and recovery of water from ice-bearing lunar regolith has not been developed in detail. In contrast, many methods for producing oxygen and metals from lunar regolith minerals have been proposed and evaluated, albeit with limited material handling and beneficiation consideration. These in-situ resource utilisation (ISRU) processes have largely been designed without significant cost and/or mass constraints. This makes them unsuitable as a starting point for the low-cost and low-mass (<30 kg) drivers of NewSpace companies such as ispace, a private lunar exploration company. This project will develop the VIPER (Volatile and Ice-bearing Regolith Processing, Enrichment and Recovery) system: a low-cost, low-mass lunar water and volatile compount recovery system. The VIPER conceptual design will be defined by the physics of regolith particle interactions under the specific constraints of the lunar environment, the expertise of Imperial College London. The physical VIPER will then exploit effectively the microrobotic technologies developed by ispace. By combining the space sector and microrobotics strengths of ispace with the mineral processing and handling expertise of Imperial College, VIPER will be brought from conceptual design to a functioning prototype (TRL 4) within 38 months. The long-term goal is for VIPER to develop into a flight-qualified instrument for ispace, and to be launched for lunar in-situ experimentation and validation in the early to mid 2020s.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you agree to the use of cookies for analytics purposes. Find out more in our Privacy Statement