Airbus successfully tested a new process called ROXY (Regolith to OXYgen and Metals Conversion) that could potentially turn lunar dust into oxygen and metals, paving the way to new horizons in human space exploration.
The successful results came after two years of development from an international team led by Airbus Defence and Space and researchers from Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials, Germany, Boston University, United States and Abengoa Innovación, Spain. ROXY demonstrated its potential to produce oxygen and metals from simulated lunar dust (regolith). “Oxygen is indispensable for all human space activities, and this new ROXY production method, which directly uses Moon dust could revolutionize human activities on the lunar surface,” Airbus said in a statement.
“This breakthrough is a massive leap forward – taking us one step closer to the holy grail of being able to sustain long term living on the Moon,” said Jean-Marc Nasr, Head of Space Systems at Airbus. According to the manufacturer, the process is cost-efficient and does not require any other resources apart from the ROXY reactor and lunar dust. It could open the way to sustainable production of oxygen, metal, and alloys “made on the Moon.”
Additionally, ROXY could find other applications down on Earth by reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases caused by the production of metals such as steel, which accounts for 5% of the total global CO2 emissions. “Since ROXY is essentially an emission-free process these environmental impacts could be reduced, providing a significant contribution to the UN sustainability goals – another example of how space technologies can improve life on Earth,” Airbus concludes.
ROXY turns Moon dust into oxygen!— Airbus Space (@AirbusSpace) October 27, 2020
ROXY enables the design of a small, simple, compact & cost-efficient regolith to oxygen & metals conversion facility, and is therefore ideally suited to support a wide range of future exploration missions.