Physical Sciences Inc. (PSI) proposes to develop a solar concentrator system for lunar In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) applications. In this system solar radiation is collected using a concentrator array which transfers the concentrated solar radiation to the optical waveguide (OW) transmission line made of low loss optical fibers. The OW transmission line directs the solar radiation to the thermal receiver for thermochemical processing of lunar regolith. Key features of the proposed system are:
1. Highly concentrated solar radiation (103~ Colozza, Anthony, Heller, Richard, Wong, Wayne and Hepp, Aloysius, “Solar Energy System for Lunar Oxygen Generation” NASA/TM – 2010-216219, AIAA-20101166, April, 2010.104 suns) can be transmitted via the flexible OW transmission line directly to the thermal receiver for oxygen production from lunar regolith;
2. Power scale-up of the system can be achieved by incremental increase of the number of concentrator units;
3. The system can be autonomous, stationary or mobile, and easily transported and deployed on the lunar surface; and
4. The system can be applied to multiple lunar ISRU processes.
PSI proposes to develop component and subsystem technologies for the solar concentrator system for lunar ISRU applications including: oxygen extraction from lunar regolith; lunar regolith processing for surface stabilization; and manufacturing of building blocks for in-situ lunar construction. The specific technical objectives of the proposed Phase I program are:
(1) Develop and evaluate the design concept for the key components of the solar concentrator system to be transported, deployed and operated on the lunar surface; and
(2) Develop the lunar dust removal method applicable to the solar concentrator system for lunar ISRU applications.
The primary application of the proposed solar concentrator system is for the production of oxygen and other useful materials on the lunar surface. The solar concentrator system can be used for sintering lunar regolith for surface stabilization and construction. In addition, the system can be used for thermal or electric power generation and plant lighting and illumination for the lunar base. Therefore, the solar concentrator system is the key enabling technology for building up the infrastructure for the lunar base.
There are a number of terrestrial uses for the solar concentrator system related to heating applications including water heating (for domestic and industrial usage), transportable heat source for the detoxification of contaminated soil, heat engine for small power plants and industrial process heat. Also concentrator subsystems may find applications for building and indoor plant growth lighting.