Blueshift, LLC doing business as Outward Technologies is an early-stage startup developing critical In-situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) technologies for terrestrial and extraterrestrial applications. Outward Technologies proposes to develop a regolith feed and removal system for oxygen extraction from regolith with non-contact reaction temperature measurement and rapid oxygen content measurement in regolith upstream and downstream of the reaction zone. The proposed regolith feed system may be integrated with multiple oxygen extraction methods to enable continuous feed of material into and out of the reaction zone while maintaining a pressure sealed reactor chamber. This Feed and Removal of Regolith for Oxygen Extraction (FaRROE) system implements two innovations that utilize the regolith itself for sealing the inlet and outlet of the reactor chamber while maintaining continuous flow. Benefits of the proposed innovation include reactor chamber sealing using in situ materials (regolith) and minimal moving parts, non-contact reaction temperature measurement that can be used to control and optimize the oxygen extraction process, real-time O2 measurements that can indicate efficiency of the process and signal whether servicing is required, continuous processing of regolith for oxygen extraction rather than requiring a batch process, extraction process agnostic design for wide adaptability, and secondary resource utilization of extruded slag for part fabrication, long duration thermal energy storage, or for smelting and secondary refining. The Phase I effort will focus on system design, prototype development of the regolith feed and removal subsystems, and feasibility demonstrations through prototype characterization testing, system analysis, and component evaluation.
The primary application within NASA’s roadmap is lunar and Martian oxygen production by enabling a continuous regolith feed and real-time process monitoring for oxygen extraction reactors (TX07.1). Additionally, once oxygen has been extracted from the regolith, FaRROE enables continuous extrusion of the processed slag which can then be used in mass production of mechanical and structural components in an extrusion-style 3D printer or casting process (TX07.2), and for thermal energy storage and transfer (TX07.1).
Companies, federal agencies, and research institutions are exploring methods for industrial decarbonization by replacing fossil fuel power sources with concentrated solar power in traditional industrial processes. FaRROE supports these efforts by providing a low-cost, low-maintenance, and continuous feed system for high-temperature industrial processes fueled by concentrated solar power.