Christopher DeMarchi

*this video was produced before COVID-19 restrictions went into effect

Simulating varying hydrogen flow patterns in solar powered lunar oxygen production

The research that I’m helping Dr. Lapp and the fellow students with is to pull oxygen out of the lunar soil.

Specifically, we’re looking at oxygen production for habitation on the moon, as well as refueling rockets for future missions.

Personally, what I’m involved with is making the best use out of the hydrogen that we need to bring to pull this all off. This has been around for at least over 20 years, at least the concept. Our method is basically we heat up the soil; that releases oxygen; we take hydrogen – that makes water; and then we separate out the oxygen and the hydrogen and recycle the hydrogen for more reactions.

This is going to take a lot of research and development but this is very realistic to accomplish. For future missions, not just the moon, this is a crucial step. So, when you leave Earth the gravitational pull is like six times higher than the moon. So, you get a big boost of efficiency right there. There’s no atmosphere, really, and you also can use a slingshot effect of the moon orbiting around the earth. So, it definitely saves a lot in costs. For a mission to Mars, refueling on the moon would be a very big help.

This interests me mainly because I really developed a passion for fluids and thermodynamics through my courses – and this is just a beautiful harmony of all of that. Plus, when I was a kid I was obsessed with space adventure and sci-fi and everything – so this is just a big symbiotic relationship between all of it and comes together and really drives home why I became a mechanical engineer.

On a scale of one to ten, this is probably at least a 10 for how cool this would be if it got pulled off.