France – The moon covers a layer of fine and fine dust called “regulth” or rock debris, which causes technical problems for spacecraft, but this rock dust is an abundant supply of oxygen that scientists are working to benefit from.
And recently, the European Space Agency has come up with an innovative use of rock debris, by converting it into oxygen that astronauts on the moon can use to breathe and produce fuel.
It is known that the rock debris on the moon consists of about 40 to 50 percent of oxygen, but it is not a separate element, as it is associated with other elements in the form of oxides, and therefore cannot be used immediately.
Researchers at the European Center for Space Research and Technology are studying ways to extract this oxygen using a technique called “electrolysis of molten salts”.
The process is carried out by placing the lunar debris in a metal basket with molten calcium chloride salt and heated to a high temperature, then an electric current is passed through it so that the oxygen can be extracted.
One of the advantages of this method is that it also produces metal alloys that can be used as a by-product, according to the Digital Trends website, which specializes in technical and scientific news.
This technique was originally developed by the company “Metallises”, which wanted to obtain a way to extract the mineral alloys, and considered oxygen the by-product, but scientists realized that they could apply this technique to the exploration of the moon.
Researchers are now studying how these mineral alloys can also be useful to explorers on the moon.
“The production process leaves behind a group of different minerals,” according to the researcher at the European Space Agency, Alexandre Meuris.
He added that the various minerals resulting from the process constitute a subject of research and study, to know which are more useful and the type of applications that can be used, and whether they can be used in three-dimensional printing directly, for example, or do they need improvement?