UC San Diego
Developing Lunar “Cement” Using Lunar Soils
- Author(s): Chen, Tze-Han
- Advisor(s): Qiao, Yu
- et al.
In order to build massive outposts or telescopes on the Moon. it have been decades since the call of a structural material, lunar “cement”, based on locally harvestable resources, e.g. lunar regolith. The development of the material is confined by a variety of criteria, including material properties and energy consumption.
Inorganic-organic hybrid (IOH) was proposed to be an ideal candidate of lunar “cement”. It uses a polymer of a high strength/weight ratio and a high radiation resistance as binder, to strongly bind together lunar regolith particles.
To minimize the polymer binder content, a novel material processing approach, the high-pressure compaction technique (HPCT), was developed. Experiments and analyses were conducted to explore the unique features of HPCT, the properties of the so-processed IOH, and the dominant factors. It is concluded that HPCT can be employed to produce IOH with an ultralow binder content of ~4 wt.% and a satisfactory flexure strength of 20-30 MPa. The polymer binder can be either a thermoset or a thermoplastic. The HPCT procedure is simple, fast, and scalable. The HPCT machinery can be small sized and lightweight.