During the NASA Academy program in the summer of 2009 I performed research on the techniques for oxygen from production from lunar materials. I performed this research under the mentorship or Dr. Peter Curreri, Dr. Laurel Karr, Dr. Steve Paley, and Dr. Matt Marone at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. I presented this research at the Marshall Summer Intern Student Poster Session, the NASA Academy graduation, and the Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium 2009 Conference. Below is the abstract for the paper I wrote on my research.
“Lunar oxygen is an important resource that can be utilized by humans returning to the moon, for both life support on the lunar surface, and propulsion to return back to Earth or to continue exploration of the solar system. Oxygen is an abundant resource on the moon, but it is chemically bound to other elements in the form of oxides in the lunar regolith. One process being studied for the extraction of oxygen from lunar regolith involves dissolving the regolith in an ionic liquid. This reaction produces a solution of water and metal ions. The water is then separated by distillation and electrolysis is performed to extract the oxygen as well as the hydrogen to regenerate the ionic liquid. A prime candidate material for the electrodes is platinum because it is highly conductive and resistant to corrosion. The oxygen and hydrogen production rate are proportional to the electrode surface area. The process of platinization of a platinum electrode involves electrochemically adhering a coating of platinum black on the platinum electrode. Platinum black has a significantly higher surface area than sheet platinum. This study used cyclic voltammetry to compare the amount of current produced between two electrodes for a given voltage. It was found that the current between blackened electrodes can be as much as a factor of 100 greater than the current between unblackened electrodes.” Oxygen Production PaperOxygen Production Poster