Author Topic: ISRU techniques and uses  (Read 82856 times)

Offline A_M_Swallow

  • Elite Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8461
  • South coast of England
  • Liked: 339
  • Likes Given: 146
ISRU techniques and uses
« on: 02/10/2008 10:57 PM »
The ISRU techniques and uses thread is to permit people to discus all aspects of In Situ Resource Utilisation (ISRU).

ISRU is where resources like minerals and gases are extracted and refined on the Moon, Mars and asteroids.  The opposite being to bring the materials from Earth.
The (proposed) processing techniques are frequently different from the ones currently used on Earth.
The refined materials may be used in buildings, tethers, spaceships, as propellent and for other purposes.

Link to the NASA ISRU webpage.
http://isru.msfc.nasa.gov

Offline clongton

  • Expert
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 10559
  • Connecticut
    • Direct Launcher
  • Liked: 2595
  • Likes Given: 965
RE: ISRU techniques and uses
« Reply #1 on: 02/10/2008 11:14 PM »
Quote
A_M_Swallow - 10/2/2008  6:57 PM

The ISRU techniques and uses thread is to permit people to discus all aspects of In Situ Resource Utilisation (ISRU).

ISRU is where resources like minerals and gases are extracted and refined on the Moon, Mars and asteroids.  The opposite being to bring the materials from Earth.
The (proposed) processing techniques are frequently different from the ones currently used on Earth.
The refined materials may be used in buildings, tethers, spaceships, as propellent and for other purposes.

Link to the NASA ISRU webpage.
http://isru.msfc.nasa.gov
Thank you Andrew. I'm really looking forward to this.
Chuck
Chuck - DIRECT co-founder
I started my career on the Saturn-V F-1A engine

Offline FunFlying

  • Member
  • Posts: 30
  • Liked: 0
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: ISRU techniques and uses
« Reply #2 on: 02/10/2008 11:37 PM »
Yes, thank you for starting this.  Here is a post that I made on the other thread, and really no one should address it there, so I'll repost it here:

One of the great uses of a robust LPRP program certainly could be to demonstrate ISRU. We've heard on other threads that LPRP could deliver anywhere from 1 to 5 T using existing LV's to the lunar surface depending on staging and lander designs. Of course an orbital propellant depot increases this essentially to the LEO performance capability of the LV, 28 T for the Delta HLV. Less than 5 T should be plenty for early demonstration ISRU plants.

Even small ISRU returns could be a very beneficial start. O2 for breathing. I've seen some interesting ideas for locally made solar cells. Just moving regolith around for shielding, dealing with dust, digging, etc. From these simple beginnings one can start to believe in propellant production for a lunar ascent vehicle (reusable or not) and other uses. This is a start toward a sustainable lunar presence, and truly critical (if not the devices, then the ISRU concept) if we want to go to Mars.

I don't see ISRU as an argument for or against a 100+ T launcher, other than we need to free up technology development funding now, if we want ISRU to be supportive of early crew missions. LPRP needs robust funding to enable numerous precursor missions. These precursor missions can even be emplacement mission, leaving resources for the first crewed missions.

Offline wingod

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1305
  • Liked: 0
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: ISRU techniques and uses
« Reply #3 on: 02/10/2008 11:41 PM »
Just for reference I am reposting the ISRU benefits.



Offline wingod

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1305
  • Liked: 0
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: ISRU techniques and uses
« Reply #4 on: 02/10/2008 11:47 PM »
Here is another crucial slide



Offline Kaputnik

  • Extreme Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2831
  • Liked: 474
  • Likes Given: 443
Re: ISRU techniques and uses
« Reply #5 on: 02/11/2008 09:31 AM »
My own partially-informed opinion on this is that Lunar ISRU as a stepping stone to Mars ISRU is like learning to run before you can walk. Harvesting and processing regolith materials into propellant (which represents the vast, vast majority of the benefit of ISRU so is surely its most important role) is going to be pretty hard compared to just sucking in atmopsheric gases for processing. but this is based mostly on intuition so perhaps I am wrong?
Waiting for joy and raptor

Offline A_M_Swallow

  • Elite Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8461
  • South coast of England
  • Liked: 339
  • Likes Given: 146
Re: ISRU techniques and uses
« Reply #6 on: 02/11/2008 11:53 AM »
Quote
Kaputnik - 11/2/2008  10:31 AM
{snip}
is going to be pretty hard compared to just sucking in atmopsheric gases for processing. but this is based mostly on
intuition so perhaps I am wrong?

True it is much harder to extract oxygen from moon rock than from the Earth's atmosphere.  The big cost is getting that oxygen into orbit.  The Moon's gravity is a lot less than the Earth's gravity so oxygen from the Moon delivered to a space station may be cheaper.

For a Moon base the hope is that 10 tons of machinery can produce at least 20 tons of useful raw materials.

LEO launch costs of $4000/kg to $14000/kg
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_heavy_lift_launch_systems

This article uses a cost of $200,000/kg to deliver goods to the Moon.
http://www.cam.uh.edu/SpaRC/ISRU%202p%20v1%20022007.pdf

So delivering 4.5 metric ton (mT) of material to the Moon has an estimated cost
of 4.5 mT * 1000 kg/mT * $200,000/kg = $900,000,000

This puts a price limit on developing the ISRU machines, although there can be a times n correction factor.

edit - spelling

Offline Kaputnik

  • Extreme Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2831
  • Liked: 474
  • Likes Given: 443
Re: ISRU techniques and uses
« Reply #7 on: 02/11/2008 12:46 PM »
Quote
A_M_Swallow - 11/2/2008  12:53 PM

Quote
Kaputnik - 11/2/2008  10:31 AM
{snip}
is going to be pretty hard compared to just sucking in atmopsheric gases for processing. but this is based mostly on
intuition so perhaps I am wrong?

True it is much harder to extract oxygen from moon rock than from the Earth's atmosphere.  The big cost is getting that oxygen into orbit.  The Moon's gravity is a lot less than the Earth's gravity so oxygen from the Moon delivered to a space station may be cheaper.

For a Moon base the hope is that 10 tons of machinery can produce at least 20 tons of useful raw materials.

LEO launch costs of $4000/kg to $14000/kg
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_heavy_lift_launch_systems

This article uses a cost of $200,000/kg to deliver goods to the Moon.
http://www.cam.uh.edu/SpaRC/ISRU%202p%20v1%20022007.pdf

So delivering 4.5 metric ton (mT) of material to the Moon has an estimated cost
of 4.5 mT * 1000 kg/mT * $200,000/kg = $900,000,000

This puts a price limit on developing the ISRU machines, although there can be a tines n correction factor.

With respect I think you may have missed the point I was making. I wasn't comparing lunar regolith O2 extraction with atmospheric extraction on Earth;  was comparing it with atmospheric extraction on Mars. People say that we need to develop lunar ISRU as a precursor to Mars ISRU. But when you think about it, we should in fact be developing ISRU on Earth as a stepping stone to Mars, because it's much closer in terms of environmental conditions and the nature of the ISRU itself.

Obviously I see the economic argument for lunar O2, it just wasn;t a aprt of what I was trying to say.
Waiting for joy and raptor

Offline wingod

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1305
  • Liked: 0
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: ISRU techniques and uses
« Reply #8 on: 02/11/2008 02:35 PM »
Quote
Kaputnik - 11/2/2008  7:46 AM

Quote
A_M_Swallow - 11/2/2008  12:53 PM

Quote
Kaputnik - 11/2/2008  10:31 AM
{snip}
is going to be pretty hard compared to just sucking in atmopsheric gases for processing. but this is based mostly on
intuition so perhaps I am wrong?

True it is much harder to extract oxygen from moon rock than from the Earth's atmosphere.  The big cost is getting that oxygen into orbit.  The Moon's gravity is a lot less than the Earth's gravity so oxygen from the Moon delivered to a space station may be cheaper.

For a Moon base the hope is that 10 tons of machinery can produce at least 20 tons of useful raw materials.

LEO launch costs of $4000/kg to $14000/kg
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_heavy_lift_launch_systems

This article uses a cost of $200,000/kg to deliver goods to the Moon.
http://www.cam.uh.edu/SpaRC/ISRU%202p%20v1%20022007.pdf

So delivering 4.5 metric ton (mT) of material to the Moon has an estimated cost
of 4.5 mT * 1000 kg/mT * $200,000/kg = $900,000,000

This puts a price limit on developing the ISRU machines, although there can be a tines n correction factor.

With respect I think you may have missed the point I was making. I wasn't comparing lunar regolith O2 extraction with atmospheric extraction on Earth;  was comparing it with atmospheric extraction on Mars. People say that we need to develop lunar ISRU as a precursor to Mars ISRU. But when you think about it, we should in fact be developing ISRU on Earth as a stepping stone to Mars, because it's much closer in terms of environmental conditions and the nature of the ISRU itself.

Obviously I see the economic argument for lunar O2, it just wasn;t a aprt of what I was trying to say.

K

I tend to agree with you.  For Mars the ISRU techniques for propellant are sufficiently different from the Moon as to be generally not applicable.  You have a zillion times more water and you have CO2 readily available.  What you don't have is power.  Solar is less than half as effective intrinsically and actually it is a factor of 1/6th as much power for the same delivered weight of solar panels.  For robust ISRU on Mars you are going to have to go nuclear, which really adds to the cost.  

Ironically it is lunar ISRU that is going to lower the cost of getting to Mars and back to a reasonable number.

However, that being said, lunar metals ISRU processes will be beneficial to Mars and Mars with its greater resource base in volitales, is going to be a great place for metals production!





Offline Big Al

  • Member
  • Posts: 97
  • Liked: 5
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: ISRU techniques and uses
« Reply #9 on: 02/11/2008 03:47 PM »
If LRO/LCROSS finds significant water-ice on the moon, that will change everything!

Offline wingod

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1305
  • Liked: 0
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: ISRU techniques and uses
« Reply #10 on: 02/11/2008 04:55 PM »
Quote
Big Al - 11/2/2008  10:47 AM

If LRO/LCROSS finds significant water-ice on the moon, that will change everything!

Not as much as you might think, unless significant is in the billions of tons and most of that hopefully will be in the north and not the south.



Offline clongton

  • Expert
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 10559
  • Connecticut
    • Direct Launcher
  • Liked: 2595
  • Likes Given: 965
Re: ISRU techniques and uses
« Reply #11 on: 02/11/2008 04:59 PM »
Quote
wingod - 11/2/2008  12:55 PM

Quote
Big Al - 11/2/2008  10:47 AM

If LRO/LCROSS finds significant water-ice on the moon, that will change everything!

Not as much as you might think, unless significant is in the billions of tons and most of that hopefully will be in the north and not the south.
Explain the difference
Chuck - DIRECT co-founder
I started my career on the Saturn-V F-1A engine

Offline Kaputnik

  • Extreme Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2831
  • Liked: 474
  • Likes Given: 443
Re: ISRU techniques and uses
« Reply #12 on: 02/11/2008 08:45 PM »
Quote
wingod - 11/2/2008  3:35 PM
I tend to agree with you.  For Mars the ISRU techniques for propellant are sufficiently different from the Moon as to be generally not applicable.  You have a zillion times more water and you have CO2 readily available.  What you don't have is power.  Solar is less than half as effective intrinsically and actually it is a factor of 1/6th as much power for the same delivered weight of solar panels.  For robust ISRU on Mars you are going to have to go nuclear, which really adds to the cost.  

Ironically it is lunar ISRU that is going to lower the cost of getting to Mars and back to a reasonable number.

However, that being said, lunar metals ISRU processes will be beneficial to Mars and Mars with its greater resource base in volitales, is going to be a great place for metals production!

Yes, AFAIK solar ISRU is really a non-starter for Mars. Just something you have to accept. However given the choices we will face soon on Earth about energy sources, the 'no nukes' viewpoint may already have lost out by the time a Mars mission is on the cards.

I'd like to see the trade-offs between mounting a Mars mission with and without lunar ISRU. Costs will vary depending on what proportion of the ISRU infrastructure/development is counted as part of the Mars program, and also the size and number of the missions.

IMHO, though, a likely manned Mars program will use NEP, 4 to 6 person crews, and fly a single mission at each launch window. Each mission of this type would need only 200-400t IMLEO, less if the MTV and surface payloads could be reused. I think it very unlikely that developing and using lunar ISRU could allow such Mars missions to be staged at a lower total cost.
Waiting for joy and raptor

Offline scienceguy

  • Regular
  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 760
  • Lethbridge, Alberta
  • Liked: 67
  • Likes Given: 133
RE: ISRU techniques and uses
« Reply #13 on: 02/11/2008 09:35 PM »
Will astronauts be growing their own food in Mars soil (in a greenhouse), or will they carry all their food with them? If they are going to be growing food on Mars, then it is important to find out if micronutrients like Boron and Manganese are in the soil (which as far as I know hasn't been confirmed yet).
e^(pi*i) = -1

Offline Kaputnik

  • Extreme Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2831
  • Liked: 474
  • Likes Given: 443
Re: ISRU techniques and uses
« Reply #14 on: 02/11/2008 09:59 PM »
For 4 or 6 person crews I don't think there's any need to grow food. A 4 to 6 person mission would probably need less than 5t of food in total for a 500d surface stay. That same mass allocated to greenhouses, tools, seedstock etc wouldn't go terribly far and would need backup supplies anyway.
Waiting for joy and raptor

Offline wingod

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1305
  • Liked: 0
  • Likes Given: 0
RE: ISRU techniques and uses
« Reply #15 on: 02/11/2008 10:36 PM »
Quote
scienceguy - 11/2/2008  4:35 PM

Will astronauts be growing their own food in Mars soil (in a greenhouse), or will they carry all their food with them? If they are going to be growing food on Mars, then it is important to find out if micronutrients like Boron and Manganese are in the soil (which as far as I know hasn't been confirmed yet).

I would say yes, they need to grow at least some of their own food.  This should not be that difficult at all due to the atmospheric composition of Mars (pump up the internal pressure to the right level) and have an inflatable.



Offline wingod

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1305
  • Liked: 0
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: ISRU techniques and uses
« Reply #16 on: 02/11/2008 10:44 PM »
Quote
clongton - 11/2/2008  11:59 AM

Quote
wingod - 11/2/2008  12:55 PM

Quote
Big Al - 11/2/2008  10:47 AM

If LRO/LCROSS finds significant water-ice on the moon, that will change everything!

Not as much as you might think, unless significant is in the billions of tons and most of that hopefully will be in the north and not the south.
Explain the difference

The problem is accessing the water.  If the water is in the cold traps and at the south pole, then it is very difficult to:

A. Get the machines into the crater.
B. Power them down there.
C. Make them work.

Making machinery work in a 30k environment is going to represent one of the biggest challenges ever for mechanical engineers and if there is only a small quantity (the lower bound is 300 million tons very widely distributed in the cold traps which implies a lot of regolith moving in an extreme environment) of water, it is probably not going to be worth doing, at least not in the near term.

On Mars, there is water below the surface in most locations and there is CO2 in the atmosphere, which are the two most critical things you need to make LOX an CH4.

It is my opinion that the Moon is the enabler to open up Mars for actual development and colonization by humans.  

Let no one think that my near term focus on the Moon means a lunar centric outlook.  To me we go to the Moon to provide the resources and infrastructure that we need to enable the second true home of mankind on Mars.

The NEO's then become a smorgasboard of incredible riches, ripe for developing by a very advanced Martian and Earthian civilization.



Offline clongton

  • Expert
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 10559
  • Connecticut
    • Direct Launcher
  • Liked: 2595
  • Likes Given: 965
Re: ISRU techniques and uses
« Reply #17 on: 02/12/2008 01:52 AM »
Quote
wingod - 11/2/2008  6:44 PM

Quote
clongton - 11/2/2008  11:59 AM

Quote
wingod - 11/2/2008  12:55 PM

Quote
Big Al - 11/2/2008  10:47 AM

If LRO/LCROSS finds significant water-ice on the moon, that will change everything!

Not as much as you might think, unless significant is in the billions of tons and most of that hopefully will be in the north and not the south.
Explain the difference

The problem is accessing the water.  If the water is in the cold traps and at the south pole, then it is very difficult to:

A. Get the machines into the crater.
B. Power them down there.
C. Make them work.

Making machinery work in a 30k environment is going to represent one of the biggest challenges ever for mechanical engineers and if there is only a small quantity (the lower bound is 300 million tons very widely distributed in the cold traps which implies a lot of regolith moving in an extreme environment) of water, it is probably not going to be worth doing, at least not in the near term.

On Mars, there is water below the surface in most locations and there is CO2 in the atmosphere, which are the two most critical things you need to make LOX an CH4.

It is my opinion that the Moon is the enabler to open up Mars for actual development and colonization by humans.  

Let no one think that my near term focus on the Moon means a lunar centric outlook.  To me we go to the Moon to provide the resources and infrastructure that we need to enable the second true home of mankind on Mars.

The NEO's then become a smorgasboard of incredible riches, ripe for developing by a very advanced Martian and Earthian civilization.
No, I meant explain the difference between the lunar north and south poles. You said "most of that hopefully will be in the north and not the south". What's the difference between the lunar north and south poles?
Chuck - DIRECT co-founder
I started my career on the Saturn-V F-1A engine

Offline clongton

  • Expert
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 10559
  • Connecticut
    • Direct Launcher
  • Liked: 2595
  • Likes Given: 965
Re: ISRU techniques and uses
« Reply #18 on: 02/12/2008 01:56 AM »
Quote
Kaputnik - 11/2/2008  5:59 PM

For 4 or 6 person crews I don't think there's any need to grow food. A 4 to 6 person mission would probably need less than 5t of food in total for a 500d surface stay. That same mass allocated to greenhouses, tools, seedstock etc wouldn't go terribly far and would need backup supplies anyway.
That is true, but I would argue that a prepositioned greenhouse would be of vital interest, not for actually supplying foodstock to the crew, but to determine the feasibility of doing so for future missions. That's one of the things I would push for if I were part of the mission planning team. If we are going to establish a permanent human presence on the planet, the ability to grow our own food will be crucial. We will need to learn, as soon as possible, what that will entail.
Chuck - DIRECT co-founder
I started my career on the Saturn-V F-1A engine

Offline wingod

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1305
  • Liked: 0
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: ISRU techniques and uses
« Reply #19 on: 02/12/2008 02:53 AM »
Quote
clongton - 11/2/2008  8:52 PM

Quote
wingod - 11/2/2008  6:44 PM

Quote
clongton - 11/2/2008  11:59 AM

Quote
wingod - 11/2/2008  12:55 PM

Quote
Big Al - 11/2/2008  10:47 AM

If LRO/LCROSS finds significant water-ice on the moon, that will change everything!

Not as much as you might think, unless significant is in the billions of tons and most of that hopefully will be in the north and not the south.
Explain the difference

The problem is accessing the water.  If the water is in the cold traps and at the south pole, then it is very difficult to:

A. Get the machines into the crater.
B. Power them down there.
C. Make them work.

Making machinery work in a 30k environment is going to represent one of the biggest challenges ever for mechanical engineers and if there is only a small quantity (the lower bound is 300 million tons very widely distributed in the cold traps which implies a lot of regolith moving in an extreme environment) of water, it is probably not going to be worth doing, at least not in the near term.

On Mars, there is water below the surface in most locations and there is CO2 in the atmosphere, which are the two most critical things you need to make LOX an CH4.

It is my opinion that the Moon is the enabler to open up Mars for actual development and colonization by humans.  

Let no one think that my near term focus on the Moon means a lunar centric outlook.  To me we go to the Moon to provide the resources and infrastructure that we need to enable the second true home of mankind on Mars.

The NEO's then become a smorgasboard of incredible riches, ripe for developing by a very advanced Martian and Earthian civilization.
No, I meant explain the difference between the lunar north and south poles. You said "most of that hopefully will be in the north and not the south". What's the difference between the lunar north and south poles?

Ah, ok.

According to Spudis & Bussey there are four places at the lunar north pole that are permanently lit and only one in the south.  The one in the south is only lit in the lunar summer and so far (more will be known soon and reported by our two intrepid scientists) it looks like the ones in the north are lit at least for most of the year full time.  This is absolutely crucial.

Second is that it is far easier to drive from the lunar north pole to the Mare regions.  The lunar southern hemisphere is incredibly rough terrain.  I have found at least two separate paths from the peaks of eternal light in the north to the Mare and none in the south.  

Also, the distance from the north pole to the Mare is far closer than in the south.  Mare Frigoris is no more than a three hundred kilometers from the pole while it is more than twice that from the south pole to the Mare.

If we are truly going to develop the Moon, the north is the place to do it from.



Tags: