The Moon’s Surface Has Oxygen To Sustain Humanity For 100,000 Years

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The first ten meters of the lunar surface could provide enough oxygen to sustain all 8 billion people on Earth for a period of 100,000 years.

This is what the researcher and professor of Soil Science at the University of New South Wales, Australia, John Grant, assesses when analyzing information from studies carried out over the years on the composition of the surface of the Moon.

According to Grant, the Moon has a thin atmosphere, composed mostly of hydrogen, neon and argon, which would not help humans. However, within this surface composed of rock and dust, known as regolith, there is an immense amount of oxygen to be extracted.

All of the Moon’s regolith is made up of approximately 45% oxygen, but all that amount of substance that can be breathed in by human lungs is strongly linked to minerals such as silica, aluminum, and iron and magnesium oxides.

To release all that oxygen would require a lot of force.

Grant says that electrolysis, a process that, in a simplified way, transforms electrical energy into chemical energy, could carry out this transformation and release oxygen from the middle of the moon rocks.

“This process,” explains Grant in an article published on The Conversation website, “is commonly used in industry to produce aluminum, for example. An electrical current is passed through a liquid form of aluminum oxide (commonly called alumina) through electrodes to separate aluminum from oxygen.”

If the process were carried out in lunar rocks, it could generate oxygen as the main element, and other substances as a secondary element. On Earth, the process is reversed, as oxygen here is abundant, it is extracted as secondary content generated by electrolysis.

However, not everything is good news. The process is energy intensive and would need to utilize sustainable sources available on the Moon. “Extracting oxygen from the regolith would also require substantial industrial equipment. We would first need to convert solid metal oxide into liquid form, applying heat or combining it with solvents or electrolytes”, explains the researcher.

Humanity already has the technology to do this on Earth and could be used on the Moon, the problem is moving the equipment to the Moon, in addition to generating enough energy to operate it”, said the professor specializing in free distribution of academic content.

A Belgian startup called Space Applications Services announced it was building three reactors to improve the process for producing oxygen by electrolysis and planned to bring the technology to the Moon by 2025 with help from the European Space Agency (ESA).

Reference: CNN Brasil

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