Non-water volatiles (NWVs) found co-located with water in lunar permanently shadowed regions (PSRs) are both a potential source of risk to water processing equipment and a potential source of value to spaceflight applications. Paragon seeks to refine and analyze process technology and architecture concepts to separate and handle lunar NWVs, along with processes to concentrate ammonia from the NWVs and generate useful products such as refrigerant, propellant, and fertilizer. This project, titled Ammonia and Volatiles Accumulation in Lunar Architectures for Non-Water Capabilities furthering Human Exploration (AVALANCHE), targets the capture, concentration, and utilization of ammonia as the primary NWV with the highest potential impact value to sustained human lunar surface operations and generation of a lunar resource economy. While ammonia is the primary target, the separation and handling of other NWVs, such as mercury, and solid precipitates resulting from the possible reactions of NWVs with one another, such as ammonium sulfite, is considered a vital part of this proposal. This proposal approaches the solution space from the In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) system architecture-level, which allows for the opportunity of evaluating technology and process concepts that would otherwise be non-viable as standalone solutions. Components and architectures will be simulated to evaluate their performance in a trade study that will allow assessment of the costs, risks mitigated, and value-added by various configurations. This, along with a feasibility study and down-selection, will result in design and experiment plans for resulting component(s) and architecture to be developed and demonstrated within Phase II of the AVALANCHE project. The top-down system analysis methodology and the potential benefits resulting from these concepts to other systems is enabled by Paragon’s unique position as an industry leader in ISRU technology.
The proposed technologies, processes, and architectures are applicable to the handling, separation, and concentration of NWV's and the processing of ammonia to value-added products on the Moon. Potential NASA applications of technologies and concepts from the AVALANCHE project include risk mitigation to lunar water processing, provision of consumables for TCS refrigerant recharge, provision of propellant and make-up inert gas for habitats, and provision of fertilizer for crop production.
The technologies, processes, and architectures of the AVALANCHE project may be included in any commercial lunar or in-space mining and resource utilization plants. Ammonia refrigerant may be used to recharge thermal control systems of commercial surface or in-space vehicles or habitats. Hydrazine generated from the resulting system could be used to service or re-supply commercial in-space assets.