Analysis of Lunar Non-Water Volatiles and Processes for their Separation and Utilization



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2024 International Conference on Environmnetal Systems


In-situ resource utilization (ISRU) has been proposed for processing water-ice on the Moon to provide fresh water, breathable oxygen, and rocket propellant for future exploration missions. On the Moon, evidence of water-ice has been detected in permanently shadowed regions (PSR) concurrently with other non-water volatile (NWV) species. All resources on the Moon can have utility in a lunar economy and some may have high enough value to warrant the expense of developing and deploying systems to process and utilize them. At the same time, some NWVs pose significant threats to the lifetime of ISRU systems and related equipment. As an example of one potentially high-value resource, ammonia co-located with lunar water-ice could be used as a refrigerant, as a fuel cell consumable, as fertilizer, as a feedstock for hydrazine production, or as a source of make-up nitrogen for lunar habitats. As an example of a hazardous NWV, mercury can cause leaching and corrosion of metals from plumbing and components and is a known toxin to humans. In this paper, we describe and analyze the lunar NWV landscape through the lens of potential value and risks associated with the NWVs detected to date. Technology concepts for processes to separate and utilize these NWVs are defined, modeled, analyzed, and traded. As a result of these efforts, key research and development gaps are identified for future investment. Because Paragon Space Development Corporation has been developing technologies for the capture, purification, and utilization of lunar water, ISRU architectures are also presented where these capture and utilization technologies for NWVs can be integrated or interfaced with other relevant systems.


Connor Joyce, Paragon Space Development Corporation, USA
Amara Hazlewood, Paragon Space Development Corporation, USA
Dylan Umphress, Paragon Space Development Corporation, USA
Jordan Holquist, Paragon Space Development Corporation, USA
ICES308: Advanced Technologies for In-Situ Resource Utilization
The 53rd International Conference on Environmental Systems was held in Louisville, Kentucky, USA, on 21 July 2024 through 25 July 2024.


lunar water, isru, water processing, lunar oxygen, permanently shadowed regions, water-ice, sublimation, mercury, non-water volatiles, oxygen from water, oxygen from regolith