Scientists Successfully Produced Oxygen from Moon Dust

European scientists state they have developed a procedure that can offer oxygen from moon dust. Such a method could come as a significant source of oxygen for humans engaging in moon exploration journeys soon.

The ESA began its research at a laboratory in the Netherlands, proving to be a great success, by simulating moon dust. Also, the dust is part of an element dubbed regolith, a top cover of rock fragments and dirt found on the moon’s ground. Samples of the component have proved that it got almost 45 % oxygen by weight. However, the oxygen is chemically blocked in the shape of glass or of some minerals, so it’s challenging to use it.

By having actual regolith from the moon, turn out everything to be right. Researchers could develop the modeled moon dust matter utilized during examinations. The oxygen extraction procedure is realized using a process dubbed molten salt electrolysis. Such a thing requires first putting the regolith in a metal vessel.

Scientists Created Oxygen from Moon Dust

Calcium chloride salt is added to the compound, which is then burned to 950 degrees Celsius. At such a temperature, the regolith stays solid. Then, researchers used an electrical current for passing it through the element. They described this step as the most significant one because the oxygen is obtained from the regolith.

The ESA’s extensive-term aim is to develop an oxygen-producing “pilot plant” to perform full-time on the moon’s surface. The first technology proof of the procedure is supposed to happen somewhere in the middle of 2020.

“Being able to acquire oxygen from resources found on the Moon would obviously be hugely useful for future lunar settlers, both for breathing and in the local production of rocket fuel,” explained Beth Lomax from the University of Glasgow. Both NASA and the ESA are performing some tests to support plans to return humans to the moon. NASA, for example, predicts such a thing to happen somewhere in 2024.