Moon Miner
  

Special Lunar Materials and Products

 Numerous lunar materials will find very interesting uses. For instance:

Magnesium

This lightweight relatively strong metal will find many uses in the low gravity of the Moon while posing no combustion dangers in the vacuum. Since magnesium can be produced with just lunar available reagents like FeSi from magma electrolysis it might be cheaper than other metals like aluminum and titanium. It can be used for wheels, vehicle frames and structural applications. It is slightly more reflective than aluminum and sheets or foils of magnesium can be used for solar collectors and solar shields. Magnesium powder mixed with LUNOX to form a slurry is shock and vibration sensitive and will detonate so it won't make a good rocket monopropellant but it could be used as an explosive. Slurries of Mg and LUNOX could be mixed up in magnesium or perhaps basalt tanks and be set off with an electric spark for blasting into solid rock. There isn't enough nitrogen on the Moon to spare for nitrate explosives. This element will be reserved for life support. We can still blast with magnesium based explosives.

 Native Glass

There are glass particles in the regolith that can be electrostatically extracted and melted down to make glass products; perhaps even foamed glass for structures. There are fields of pyroclastic (volcanic) glass on the Moon. The glass particles could be extracted while mining massive tonnages of regolith in these deposits. The pyroclastic glass particles or beads if you will are coated with traces of iron, nickel, sulfur, copper, zinc, gallium and chlorine. We could heat the glass beads and evaporate these lunar rare elements from their surfaces or wash off the elements with a liquid of some sort. Glass from regolith and glass from the processing of regolith for metals could be used to make glass fiber reinforced glass matrix composites. The melting point of the glass matrix would be reduced by adding Na, K, MgO and CaAl2O4.

 Basalt

This is one of the most abundant and easily obtained resources on the Moon. The mare consist of pulverized basalt. All we need to do is mine up mare "soil" and press it into iron molds and sinter it to make bricks, blocks, tiles, slabs, etc. We can also melt it at 1150 to 1350 C and pour it into iron molds to cast solid items. Basalt pipes can be made by centrifugal casting. Basalt is very hard (harder than steel) and abrasion resistant. It has high compression strength. Basalt fibers could be drawn through platinum-rhodium bushings, like glass, to make basalt fiber reinforced basalt matrix composites. The basalt matrix m.p. would be reduced by adding Na and K. This material is only hypothetical. If it is possible to make this stuff it will be cheap and abundant and it could substitute for metals in many structural applications. Basalt is a bit denser than aluminum and basalt fiber/basalt matrix composites might be used instead of aluminum for space solar power satellite frames. Basalt has also been used to make brake pads. Since asbestos will not be found on the Moon, vehicle brakes could be made with basalt instead.  Basalt can be carved into beautiful items. We'll need some imported tungsten carbide chisels to do that!

 A beautiful basalt bathroom. See:  http://www.asiapacificstone.com/stone-products/lavastone.html

 

http://philipmitchelldesign.blogspot.com/2013/11/basalt-wedgewood.html

 http://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/19965689_an-egyptian-basalt-heart-scarab

 

 TABLE4.16.-LUNAR FACTORY APPLICATIONS OF PROCESSED BASALT

SEE: http://www.nss.org/settlement/spaceresources/1982-AutomatedSpaceManufacturingFacility.pdf


Cast Basalt Sintered Basalt Spun Basalt (Fibers)
 

Machine base supports (lathes, milling machines)

Furnace lining for resources extraction Operations

Large tool beds

Crusher jaws

Pipes and conduits

 

Conveyor

hydraulic, sliding)

Linings for ball, tube or pug mills,

flue ducts, ventilators, cyclers,

drains, mixers, tanks, electrolyzers,

and mineral dressing equipment

 

Tiles

Sidings

Expendable ablative hull material

(possibly composited with spun

basalt)

Track rails

"Railroad" ties

Pylons

Heavy duty containers for

"agricultural" use

Radar dish or mirror frames

Thermal rods or heat pipes housings

Supports and backing for solar

collectors

and bricksmaterial (pneumatic,

 

 

 

Nozzles

Tubing

Wire-drawing dies

Ball bearings

Wheels

Low torque fasteners

Studs

Furniture and utensils

Low load axles

Scientific equipment, frames and

yokes

Light tools

Light duty containers and flasks

for laboratory use

Pump housings

Filters/partial plugs

 

Cloth and bedding

Resilient shock absorbing pads

Acoustic insulation

Thermal insulation

Insulator for prevention of cold

welding of metals

Filler in sintered "soil" cement

Fine springs

Packing material

Strainers or filters for industrial or

agricultural use

Electrical insulation

Ropes for cables (with coatings)


                                   More Items to make from Basalt


1. plates,dishes of various sizes
2. mugs
3. tea cups
4. bowls of various sizes
5. tea and coffee pots
6. serving trays
7. pitchers
8. decanters
9. counter tops
10. kitchen sinks
11. table tops
12. table legs
13. stools
14. chairs
15. bars
16. shelves
17. bottles of various sizes
18. jugs
19. hand basins
20. toilets
21. bath tubs
22. shower stalls
23. bidettes
24. planting containers
25. flower pots of various sizes
26. vases
27. lamps
28. water pipes and sewer pipes (may require centrifugal casting and joining with cement)

29. ash trays
30. paper weights
31. candle sticks
32. shelves
33. aquaculture tanks
34. floor, ceiling and wall tiles
35. bricks
36. blocks
37. towel racks
38. clothes racks
39. shower curtain racks
40. shower curtain rings
41. shower curtains from basalt fiber
42. drapes from fiber
43. cushions of woven fiber stuffed with fiber
44. mattresses of woven fiber stuffed with fiber
45. rugs of basalt fiber??

46. statuary cast or carved
47. doors, swinging or sliding
48. handles and knobs for metal drawers
49. picture frams
50. mirrors, thin flat slabs with evaporated on aluminum coating


small items could be cast in 3D printed permanent iron molds


large items cast in expendable sand molds bound with sodium silicate


Calcium

There's plenty of calcium on the Moon. On the average, it composes about 8% of the regolith. This soft lightweight metal ignites spontaneously in air. This will not be a problem out-vac on the Moon, although it could sublimate in the vacuum so cladding with aluminum will be desirable. Calcium is a better conductor than aluminum and copper. The EMEC process yeilds calcium. It could be used for long distance power lines and for mass driver coils. Much research on calcium metallurgy needs to be done.

Meteoric Iron Fines

Meteoric particles consisting of iron, 90-95%, nickel, 5-10%, cobalt, 0.2%, and lesser amounts of germanium, gallium and platinum group metals (PGMs) are present all over the Moon in a few tenths of a percent of the regolith.  These can be harvested magnetically by machines that process millions of tons of regolith every year.  Since the particles are fused with silicates they must be ground and processed magnetically to get pure metal.  The iron and nickel can be extracted with recycled carbon monoxide gas.  Separation with a device that resembles a mass spectrometer is also possible.  Nickel is especially useful.  It can be used to make carbonless maraging steel for rocket motor casings.  Nickel can also be used to make steel alloys that are strong yet ductile and have high corrosion resistance.  This will be very important for equipment that must handle hot oxygen or steam and work at extreme temperatures.  It can be used as a catalyst in Sabatier reactors to combine hydrogen, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide from solar wind implanted volatiles harvesting and/or polar ices of cometary origin to make methane.  Methane can be decomposed at 900 C. to get pure carbon and recover hydrogen.  Nickel can also be used as an electrode material in iron-nickel alkaline batteries like those invented by Edison.  These batteries are very rugged and last for decades.  Cobalt in combination with chromium, molybdenum, vanadium and/or tungsten is used to make high speed steels for drill bits and cutting tools.  These will be needed in machine shops.  Chromium could eventually be extracted from regolith since it contains the mineral chromite while small quantities of Mo, V and W can be imported.


Purification

Metals produced on the Moon will probably contain impurities.  In the free vacuum and low gravity of the Moon purification will be easier.  There will be no air therefore there will be no contamination by oxygen, nitrogen or moisture when red hot metals are purified.  Rods or bars of iron, titanium, aluminum, magnesium or calcium can be zone refined to high degrees of purity in the low gravity without danger of the rods or bars falling apart.  In the vacuum, the molten zone in metals being zone refined will not react with air.  Impurities that have lower melting/boiling points than the metal they are dissolved in could simply be boiled off in the vacuum. In the case of iron, impurities of Na, K, S and P have much lower boiling points than the melting point of iron.  See:  http://chem-guide.blogspot.com/2010/04/refining-of-metals-poling-electro.html