Friday, July 07, 2006

Lunar Fluids

/Since volatiles are rare on the moon, and fluids are needed for many many applications, from heat exchange, to hydraulics, to sealing interfaces, a very useful thing to do would be to develop some sort of in-situ fluid that could fill some of these roles. It would have to be able to be produced from silicon, oxygen, titanium, iron, ect. The primary constituents of the lunar surface (Or at least stuff you can find in > PPM quantities). If a permanent settlement is to have fluid loss, it’s better to use something that can readily be replaced in abundance in seals, sliders, and rotating equipment.

So many liquids that we use every day are loaded with hydrogen. Anyone know of some chemical that could fill the bill?

I know that microscopic silicon spheres are used as a lubricant, but I’m not certain if they could, for instance, wet gaskets to prevent air from leaking from a chamber under pressure or something. It certainly won’t make a heat transfer medium for powerplants and heat exchangers, seeing as how silicon has about 1-1.5 W/m^2 (MATWEB) heat transfer coefficient! It also wouldn't be much use as a cleaner, seeing as how the lunar dust behaves similarly.

Maybe the same sort of thing could be done with iron, aluminum, or other metal – making microscopic spheres out of it to turn it into a pseudo-liquid for heat transfer purposes. However, having such a heat transfer medium lock up on the job, like the graphite in Chernobyl would be bad.

Perhaps liquid phosphorous or sulfur could be used. It would have to be heated, but has a low melting point. (111C, 219C respectively, http://www.space-rockets.com/moon1.html) For things like doors, you could possibly melt it and freeze it upon opening and closing the door, hermetically sealing your environment. But for piston rings, ect, it might not be the best idea. On second thought, it would oxidize like crazy with the gasses that they're sealing, not to mention burn if they got inside the habitat. Maybe lead?

Just thinking out loud. Let me know what you think in the comments section. In any case, the engineering challenges of settling space are likely to be complex and unanticipated to a large degree. We'll have to figure it out as we go, and we will have to go first, long before we know everything about what we're doing.

3 Comments:

Blogger Robert Reed III said...

Very nice blog entry. I, too, believe that using Lunar ice for rocket propellant is a waste of resources.

Also, I wanted to know if you wanted to exchange blog links. theluf.blogspot.comThanks.

Saturday, July 08, 2006 9:18:00 AM  
Blogger qwerty182764 said...

Thanks for the offer. Sure.

Saturday, July 08, 2006 9:40:00 AM  
Anonymous Gordon said...

"the engineering challenges of settling space are likely to be complex and unanticipated to a large degree. We'll have to figure it out as we go, and we will have to go first, long before we know everything about what we're doing."

Yeah, that's the part so many folks don't seem to see. Most people don't see the unknowns; their brains aren't wired that way, I guess. Whatever isn't known is either assumed, mythologized, trivialized or completely ignored.

Since exploration is all about delving into the unknown, by definition we can't know all the problems ahead of time.

There's another side of this coin, however - in the same way we can't know all the opportunities ahead of time.

We have to move forward in a prudent, measured and consistent way that cuts risk but also benefits from a confidence/faith that, with the unexpected difficulties, will also come some unexpected/unforeseeable opportunities.

Christopher Columbus didn't achieve his stated goal, but ended up accomplishing a lot more, simply because of the tremendous global scale on which he was working. Space exploration involves an even grander scale, and will likely yield even greater opportunities.

Monday, July 31, 2006 9:14:00 PM  

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