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Mining on the Moon

Posted by: Klaus Schmidt - Thu Oct 11, 2007 3:39 pm
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Mining on the Moon 
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Post    Posted on: Mon Oct 22, 2007 12:14 am
Solar wind is ionized right? Wouldn't it be easier to use magnetic scoop plus electrostatic collector instead? That be cheaper and a a bonus provides artificial magnetosphere,- yea I like that idea. Does anybody knows any uses fo SiO2, building material perhaps or maybe you can do something with Al + SiO2. Surely it can't be completely useless.

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Post    Posted on: Mon Oct 22, 2007 2:40 am
Nobody knows how to make a magnetic scoop. At least not big enough to be worth while. At least not in reality as opposed to in words. But we do know how to dig up tons of dirt.

rpspeck wrote:
I am also encouraged by the listed numbers for Lunar Hydrogen.
You find 6,100 grams (not kilograms) of Hydrogen per 105 tons of material encouraging?


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Post    Posted on: Mon Oct 22, 2007 6:48 am
Hydrogen is the least of 'our' problems. It's the lightest atomn around, so i don't see the point of doing all this effort for a tiny bit of hydrogen. I fyou can't get it easily, just forget it.


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Post    Posted on: Mon Oct 22, 2007 3:20 pm
campbelp2002 wrote:
... But we do know how to dig up tons of dirt.

rpspeck wrote:
I am also encouraged by the listed numbers for Lunar Hydrogen.
You find 6,100 grams (not kilograms) of Hydrogen per 105 tons of material encouraging?


Apparently I missed some of the corrections. If the listed numbers are off by a factor of 1000 to 10,000 (I did see a note about 1,050 Tons) then perhaps we need to start this thread over. In engineering and industrial circles (but not necessarily in Physics) this is not considered a "small factor".

If we are talking about 6 parts per million Hydrogen in natural regolith, then I will go back to "Hydrogen Farming".

Incidentally, SiO2 and molecular combinations with aluminum make up much of the building materials on this planet (in stone, bricks and the hard rock/sand filler in concrete). It thus seems to have uses (not counting glass and semiconductor use + Solar Cells).

I understand that thermal "sintering" of Lunar regolith (optimally with solar heat) has already been demonstrated to produce durable bricks. I have contemplated a form of these bricks with mating protrusions and cavities (I call them LUGOS). These would be easy to stack into walls, tunnels and buildings. I have observed that "Common" lunar regolith packs very well and holds the shape impressed upon it - allowing sintering of complex performed shapes.

After sintering, these bricks could be coated (and sealed) by application of Iron or Aluminum, by either vacuum evaporation or Hydrogen reduction of Iron Compounds. Stacked walls could be finished and sealed by either automatic TIG welding of joints or by vacuum evaporation of Aluminum in the stacked LUGO structure or tunnel to coat and seal the walls with that metal.


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Post    Posted on: Tue Oct 23, 2007 6:51 am
From my point of view each lunar amount of hydrogen is of value - in comparison to the costs or prices I got in the Lunar-Siyuz-thread for hydrogen carried to the Moon from Earth.

The relevant question then would be how much of the other ingredients of lunar soil and dust are of purpose and interest.

Of course deliveries from Earth seem to be the more interesting the slower the rocket travles that carries the delivery.

So even the smallest amounts should be welcome.

Helo, rpspeck,

what is hydrogen farming in detail? I seem to remember that you already talked about it but would be interested to learn more about it because of its economics.



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Post    Posted on: Tue Oct 23, 2007 7:41 am
While it is true that magnetic scoop tech is immature at this time the physical principels behind it are solid. In theory if you make a tincan sized superconductor coil, align it parrallel to the solar wind and give it some charge, it should collect solar wind for kilometers aroud. The cost and energy consumption are negligible, plus it protects lunar surface vs solar wind. Won't get a lot of hydrogen but any is better than nothing. Anyway you don't need that much hydrogen for life support and other uses.

Someone really should clarify the soil concentrations, I am all confused now...

I was thinking about Luna cities the other day. It seems to me that they would be build almost totally underground and since I envision that the primary purpose of Luna colonies would be mining, it would be prudent to "build as you mine". Does anyone have any thoughs on the synthesys of the two. For example, as I understand it, explosives are widely used in terrastrial mining, but that could be a problem on Luna, also I think that building underground tunnels could be a pain. One last thought - on Earth the cities are "squashed" by gravity into being surface features, on Luna vertical limit would be much higher - what effect would that have?

Does anyone have much knowledge of tunnel building?

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Post finding hydrogen, carbon etc.   Posted on: Wed Oct 24, 2007 10:13 am
The following table is what the apollo missions found from the six sites that were visited
Highlands tend to be higher in aluminium and the lowlands richer in iron and titanium.
Hydrogen is very light on (excuse the pun) and helium doesn't lift the needle off the backstop.

Lunar highland vs. lowland compositions, and comparison to Earth average:
Element Lunar
Lunar
Earth Earth
Highland Lowland Av. Rank
Oxygen 446,000 417,000 466,000 1
Silicon 210,000 212,000 277,000 2
Aluminum 133,000 69,700 81,300 3
Iron 48,700 132,000 50,000 4
Calcium 106,800 78,800 36,300 5
Sodium 3,100 2,900 28,300 6
Potassium 800 1,100 25,900 7
Magnesium 45,500 57,600 20,900 8
Titanium 3,100 31,000 4,400 9
Hydrogen 56 54 1,400 10
Phosphorus 500 660 1,050 11
Manganese 675 1,700 950 12
Carbon 100 100 200 17
Chlorine 17 26 130 20
Chromium 850 2,600 100 21
Chemical analysis in weight parts per million. Extracted from
General Dynamics/Convair study under contract to NASA.
Found at (http://www.permanent.com/l-apollo.htm)

To do anything practical on the moon you need people there.
To support people you need food, air and water
Oxygen can be extracted from the soils with a simple solar furnace.
But there is no nitrogen to speak of.
Water can be made by taking along some hydrogen and burning it.
Food is the problem.
Initially it will all have to come from earth.
But for any long term activity you will want to set up some sort of hydroponic
or soil based farm as soon as possible.
Either way Carbon (or the lack of it) is the really big problem.
Without it you won't grow much of anything on the moon.
100 ppm isn't enough.
So you have to find it.
One of the first activities a lunar expedition will need to do is explore.
The moon has no vulcanism. No plate tectonics. No erosion by wind or water.
What it does have is meteor impact craters all over the place.
At the bottom of each crater there should be a deposit of material from each meteorite.
The first job should be to find the remains of a carbonaceous meteorite.
Preferably a big one.
This would give a supply of
Carbon 24,000 ppm (by weight)
Hydrogen 24,000
Nitrogen 1,300
Phosphorus 1,000
(http://www.webelements.com/webelements/ ... stony.html)

Now you're set. The rest is engineering.

It would seem to me that something we should be doing right now is
exploring the bottom of craters with a lunar rover to find that carbonaceous meteorite.

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Post    Posted on: Wed Oct 24, 2007 10:27 am
Sorry I'll post that table again without the tabs :lol:

Lunar highland vs. lowland compositions, and comparison to Earth average:
Element Lunar Lunar Earth Earth
Highland Lowland Av. Rank
Oxygen 446,000 417,000 466,000 1
Silicon 210,000 212,000 277,000 2
Aluminum 133,000 69,700 81,300 3
Iron 48,700 132,000 50,000 4
Calcium 106,800 78,800 36,300 5
Sodium 3,100 2,900 28,300 6
Potassium 800 1,100 25,900 7
Magnesium 45,500 57,600 20,900 8
Titanium 3,100 31,000 4,400 9
Hydrogen 56 54 1,400 10
Phosphorus 500 660 1,050 11
Manganese 675 1,700 950 12
Carbon 100 100 200 17
Chlorine 17 26 130 20
Chromium 850 2,600 100 21
Chemical analysis in weight parts per million. Extracted from
General Dynamics/Convair study under contract to NASA.
Found at (http://www.permanent.com/l-apollo.htm)

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Post    Posted on: Wed Oct 24, 2007 1:13 pm
I doubt any volatile elements like hydrogen would have remained buried in the bottom of a crater no matter how much was in the asteroid that made it.


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Post    Posted on: Thu Oct 25, 2007 5:05 am
That's the question.
The figures I've quoted are taken from carbonaecous meteors that have lobbed on earth. As the hydrogen is (presumably) bound in hydrocarbons then it may survive - has survived in the case of meteors hitting the earth
But an ablative landing through an atmosphere is different to a sudden full stop of a meteor hitting the moon
I'm sure an expert would be able to tell us the likelyhood of the hydrogen surviving a lunar impact
I wouldn't know
And I guess we won't know for sure till we get there anyway.
But it's the first thing I'd check out :P

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Post    Posted on: Thu Oct 25, 2007 5:54 pm
Frediiiie wrote:
As the hydrogen is (presumably) bound in hydrocarbons then it may survive
Oh! I didn't think of that. I was just assuming it was in the form of water or hydrogen gas, but other hydrogen compounds could still be there. But if those compounds were in asteroids that hit the Moon, wouldn't some of it be in the ejecta and so be detectable in at least some of the Apollo samples? As I recall the Apollo samples showed no organic compounds at all. Not even at very low parts per million levels.


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Post    Posted on: Sat Oct 27, 2007 8:31 am
That's right.
But how much of the ejecta is part of the meteorite and how much is displaced rock and rubble?
I'm sure somebody's done some modelling work on this.
Would it be possible to see what's in which crater from examination from orbit?
If so it might be possible to map what mineral deposits are where.
The next question is how far would you need to dig down?

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Post    Posted on: Sat Oct 27, 2007 8:54 am
Another point is that the total of collected moon rock is 60 somthing kg (from memory) from a total of 6 sites. Not enough to draw much in the way of conclusions.

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Post    Posted on: Sat Oct 27, 2007 11:32 am
The Americans got 382 kg and the Russians a few grams.

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Post    Posted on: Sat Oct 27, 2007 11:46 am
Question is if those rocks were picked-up, cut-off from bigger rocks or are there any real soil samples beneath the regolith. That's the interesting stuff since rocks will run out, ground beneath it not so fast ;)


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