Aqua Factorem: Low Energy Lunar Ice Extraction System

Technology #11539

Key Points

  • Time- and energy-saving method for extracting lunar water
  • All processing occurs in a permanently shadowed region of the moon
  • Cost-saving alternative to thermal extraction and strip mining processes

The University of Central Florida invention describes a method to extract lunar water, drastically reducing the energy and complexity of lunar mining operations helping to establish this industry. The process consists of robot mining of the regolith (loose, heterogeneous superficial deposits covering solid rock), transferring the mined material to a conveyer and passing the soil through grinding and crushing stages. Included are mechanisms to sort the material into ice, metals, and other minerals, and final transport and cleanup. Other methods are based on the extraction and phase change of ice (higher energy) or hauling the strip‐mined resource with slag (expensive, 95 percent of mass contains unwanted silicates).