Experimental investigation of magnesium/regolith combustion for in-situ production of materials on the moon
Future settlements on the Moon will require that strong, cost-effective structural materials be developed in whole or in part from locally available resources. Such materials can be created in-situ from the lunar regolith using self-propagating high-temperature synthesis (SHS). By mixing the lunar regolith with metal additives, such as aluminum or magnesium, a combustible mixture is formed which, when ignited, can reach temperatures high enough to allow combustion to be self-sustaining, sintering the lunar regolith without further energy input and without the need for atmospheric oxygen. The resulting products may be strong enough for some structural applications, such as radiation shielding, hightemperature thermal insulation, launch pads, and thermal wadis. Thermodynamic calculations and experiments were successfully performed using mixtures of lunar simulant JSC-1A and magnesium. The present investigation is focused on the predictions of thermodynamic calculations for magnesium mixtures with an emphasis on predicted compositions, the effects of milling on simulant characteristics and propagation of the combustion wave, the effect of gravity upon combustion products, the minimization of magnesium content in the reaction, and unstable combustion phenomena encountered during experiments.
White, Christopher, "Experimental investigation of magnesium/regolith combustion for in-situ production of materials on the moon" (2011). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI1503752.