Making Air On The Moon

November 13, 2013 in Daily Bulletin


Want to have a nice gulp of air but stuck on the moon? Just melt the rocks, suggests a serious NASA venture:

  • The cost of moving stuff from the Earth to the Moon is $100,000 per kilo, so making oxygen on the moon would be a cost-saving measure.
  • Oxygen is partly for the astronauts, but overwhelmingly to fuel the rocket
  • Melting rocks to produce oxygen would be done along similar lines to how aluminium is refined industrially; by passing a big electric current to reduce/oxidise the lunar stone, which should also heat up the materials to their melting point.
  • As an added bonus, the by-products of the reaction would be silicon (for solar cells) and iron (for making…things)
  • This rock to oxygen process has actually been done successfully on Earth, using lunar materials brought back by astronauts.
  • There are big dreams involved. 85% of a rocket’s mass is fuel used to escape the Earth’s orbit. If we could ‘pit stop’ on the Moon and refuel, getting further into the Solar System would become more viable…

The full article is pretty chemistry heavy. But if you want to know why the surface of the Moon is all the same material or what this has to do with steel smelting, look over here

Source: Society of Chemistry and Industry