Abstract

Human lunar and planetary exploration can be simplified by the exploitation of in situ resources. High priorities are placed on propellant and life support consumables, such as oxygen and water. The latter can be considered a biproduct of propellant production, and is essential for sustained human presence. Its existence was detected on the Moon and on Mars. However, its endemic occurrence as ice can make storage and transportation difficult, so a conversion to its liquid state often is preferable. The disadvantage of this is that energy-intensive active heating systems are required to prevent freezing. Recently, a method was presented that potentially can eliminate this disadvantage by maintaining the liquid state down to 120°C, even at pressures as low as 0.1 mbar. This is achieved by mixing the water with a commercially available lipid, thereby forming a lipidic mesophase. Transportation of the mesophase in cryogenic hydraulic networks is achieved easily by pumping, and this can be exploited to design a centralized closed-loop liquid water storage system for a lunar base. The distinguishing feature is that the tanks can be placed outside the human habitats. Key system components are potentially manufacturable in situ. In this work, an architecture for the life support part of such a system is proposed, and the key chemical processes are demonstrated experimentally. The first of these is the scale-up of the water–lipid enrichment process by a factor of 5 from typical laboratory scales. The second is the extraction of water from the mesophase by distillation. It is shown that 79% by weight of the water is extractable for reuse, and the remainder presumably forms an azeotrope with the lipid. The power required to circulate the mixture between human habitats and external tanks is estimated to be <41  kW for a crew of 10.

Practical Applications

Water can be mixed with a commercially available lipid using a simple thermal process. A surprising attribute of this mixture is that it remains liquid, i.e., it does not freeze, at temperatures as low as 120°C. As a result, pumps can be used to transport the liquid through hydraulic networks. This can be exploited to construct water supply and storage networks in cold environments without the need for an active heating system. Potential applications of this technology are in extraterrestrial and terrestrial environments. The former includes the development of lunar and planetary installations for life support and exploration as part of the ongoing effort to extend human presence beyond Earth. The latter include water storage and supply systems for cold terrestrial environments in which access to clean liquid water is required but such water scarce. Examples are regions above the Arctic circle, Antarctica, high-altitude environments, or, generally, regions with extended freezing periods.

Get full access to this article

View all available purchase options and get full access to this article.

Data Availability Statement

Some or all data, models, or code that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request. These include the experimental and analytical data of Fig. 1, the numerical model of Fig. 3 and the results generated with it, and the data shown in Fig. 5.

Acknowledgments

This work was carried out with funding from the European Space Agency (ESA) Initial Support for Innovation (EISI), Open Discovery Ideas Channel of ESA’s Open Space Innovation Platform (OSIP) program under grant OSIP Idea Id: I-2021-03398. This support is gratefully acknowledged. The authors also acknowledge the valuable contribution of Dr. Sarah Rodriguez Castillo of the ESA European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in Noordwijk, Netherlands, who performed the viscosity measurements.

References

Beale, D., D. Harris, J. Bonometti, R. Mueller, and G. Murphy. 2008. “ESMD course material: Fundamentals of lunar and systems engineering for senior project teams, with application to a lunar excavator.” Accessed October 17, 2022. https://www.eng.auburn.edu/∼dbeale/ESMDCourse/.
Bibring, J.-P., et al. 2004. “Perennial water ice identified in the south polar cap of Mars.” Nature 428 (6983): 627–630. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature02461.
Black, W. Z., and J. G. Hartley. 1996. Thermodynamics. New York: HarperCollins College.
Empresarios Agrupados Internacional. 2017. “Papers related to space, aeronautics, and power area.” Accessed October 8, 2022. https://www.ecosimpro.com/papers/.
Empresarios Agrupados Internacional. 2020. European space propulsion system simulation—ESPSS EcosimPro libraries user manual—ESPSS Version 3.4.0. Madrid, Spain: Empresarios Agrupados Internacional.
Empresarios Agrupados Internacional. 2022. EcosimPro 2022 version 6.4.0 modelling and simulation software—Complete reference manual. Madrid, Spain: Empresarios Agrupados Internacional.
Fink, J. K. 2012. Petroleum engineer’s guide to oil field chemicals and fluids. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Elsevier.
Flick, E. W. 1991. Industrial solvents handbook. New York: Noyes.
Kehelpannala, C., W. W. T. Rupasinghe, T. Hennesy, T. Bradley, B. Ebert, and U. Roessner. 2020. “A comprehensive comparison of four methods for extracting lipids from Arabidopsis tissues.” Plant Methods 16 (1): 1–16. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13007-020-00697-z.
Lasseur, C., O. Angerer, D. Schmitt, P. Rebeyre, P. Amblard, J. C. Lasserre, D. Demey, F. Doulami, and N. Michel. 2004. “Life test validation of life support hardware in CONCORDIA Antarctic base.” SAE Trans. 113 (Jan): 582–586. https://doi.org/10.4271/2004-01-2352.
Li, S., P. G. Lucey, R. E. Milliken, P. O. Hayne, E. Fisher, J.-P. Hurley, D. M. Williams, and R. C. Elphic. 2018. “Direct evidence of surface exposed water ice in the lunar polar regions.” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 115 (36): 8907–8912. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1802345115.
McLain, V. C. 2007. “Final report on the safety assessment of phytantriol.” Int. J. Toxicol. 26 (1): 107–114. https://doi.org/10.1080/10915810601163947.
Mezzenga, R., C. Meyer, C. Servais, A. I. Romoscanu, L. Sagalowicz, and R. C. Hayward. 2005. “Shear rheology of lyotropic liquid crystals: A case study.” Langmuir 21 (8): 3322–3333. https://doi.org/10.1021/la046964b.
Morgan, G. A., et al. 2021. “Availability of subsurface water-ice resources in the northern mid-latitudes of Mars.” Nat. Astron. 5 (3): 230–236. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41550-020-01290-z.
NASA OCHMO (National Aeronautics and Space Administration Office of the Chief Health & Medical Officer). 2022. “Water–human consumption.” NASA-STD-3001 Technical Brief. Accessed October 27, 2022. https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/water_technical_brief_ochmo.pdf.
Pham, A. C., L. Hong, O. Montagnat, C. J. Nowell, T.-H. Nguyen, and B. J. Boyd. 2016. “In vivo formation of cubic phase in situ after oral administration of cubic phase precursor formulation provides long duration gastric retention and absorption for poorly water-soluble drugs.” Mol. Pharmaceutics 13 (1): 280–286. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.molpharmaceut.5b00784.
Poling, B. E., J. M. Prausnitz, and J. P. O’Connell. 2001. The properties of gases and liquids. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Salvati Manni, L. S., S. Assenza, M. Duss, J. J. Avllooran, F. Juranyi, S. Jurt, O. Zerbe, E. M. Landau, and R. Mezzenga. 2019. “Soft biomimetic nanoconfinement promotes amorphous water over ice.” Nat. Nanotechnol. 14 (6): 609–615. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41565-019-0415-0.
SellCare. 2018. Phytantriol safety data sheet. Wetzikon, Switzerland: SellCare.
Tang, T.-Y. D., N. J. Brooks, C. Jeworrek, O. Ces, N. J. Terrill, R. Winter, R. H. Templer, and J. M. Seddon. 2012. “Hydrostatic pressure effects on the lamellar to gyroid cubic phase transition of monolinolein at limited hydration.” Langmuir 28 (36): 13018–13024. https://doi.org/10.1021/la3025843.
Thorn, C. R., A. J. Clulow, B. J. Boyd, C. A. Prestidge, and N. Thomas. 2020. “Bacterial lipase triggers the release of antibiotics from digestible liquid crystal nanoparticles.” J. Controlled Release 319 (Mar): 168–182. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jconrel.2019.12.037.
Weast, R. C. 1975. CRC handbook of chemistry and physics. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.
Yao, Y., T. Zhou, R. Färber, U. Grossner, G. Floudas, and R. Mezzenga. 2021. “Designing cryo-enzymatic reactions in subzero liquid water by lipidic mesophase nanoconfinement.” Nat. Nanotechnol. 16 (7): 802–810. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41565-021-00893-5.

Information & Authors

Information

Published In

Go to Journal of Aerospace Engineering
Journal of Aerospace Engineering
Volume 36Issue 6November 2023

History

Received: Mar 31, 2023
Accepted: Jun 20, 2023
Published online: Sep 14, 2023
Published in print: Nov 1, 2023
Discussion open until: Feb 14, 2024

Permissions

Request permissions for this article.

ASCE Technical Topics:

Authors

Affiliations

Institute of Energy Systems and Fluid-Engineering, Zurich Univ. of Applied Sciences, Technikumstrasse 9, Winterthur 8401, Switzerland (corresponding author). ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4826-7735. Email: [email protected]
Tim Altorfer [email protected]
Institute of Energy Systems and Fluid-Engineering, Zurich Univ. of Applied Sciences, Technikumstrasse 9, Winterthur 8401, Switzerland. Email: [email protected]
Institute of Materials and Process Engineering, Zurich Univ. of Applied Sciences, Technikumstrasse 9, Winterthur 8401, Switzerland. Email: [email protected]
Dario Wichser [email protected]
Institute of Energy Systems and Fluid-Engineering, Zurich Univ. of Applied Sciences, Technikumstrasse 9, Winterthur 8401, Switzerland. Email: [email protected]
David Dudli [email protected]
Institute of Energy Systems and Fluid-Engineering, Zurich Univ. of Applied Sciences, Technikumstrasse 9, Winterthur 8401, Switzerland. Email: [email protected]
Markus Weber Sutter, Ph.D. [email protected]
Professor, Institute of Energy Systems and Fluid-Engineering, Zurich Univ. of Applied Sciences, Technikumstrasse 9, Winterthur 8401, Switzerland. Email: [email protected]
Matteo Madi, Ph.D. [email protected]
Sirin Orbital Systems, Genferstrasse 24, Zürich 8002, Switzerland. Email: [email protected]
Yang Yao, Ph.D. [email protected]
Dept. of Health Sciences & Technology, Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH) Zürich, Schmelzbergstrasse 9, Zürich 8092, Switzerland. Email: [email protected]
Raffaele Mezzenga, Ph.D. [email protected]
Professor, Dept. of Health Sciences & Technology, Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH) Zürich, Schmelzbergstrasse 9, Zürich 8092, Switzerland. Email: [email protected]

Metrics & Citations

Metrics

Citations

Download citation

If you have the appropriate software installed, you can download article citation data to the citation manager of your choice. Simply select your manager software from the list below and click Download.

View Options

Get Access

Access content

Please select your options to get access

Log in/Register Log in via your institution (Shibboleth)
ASCE Members: Please log in to see member pricing

Purchase

Save for later Information on ASCE Library Cards
ASCE Library Cards let you download journal articles, proceedings papers, and available book chapters across the entire ASCE Library platform. ASCE Library Cards remain active for 24 months or until all downloads are used. Note: This content will be debited as one download at time of checkout.

Terms of Use: ASCE Library Cards are for individual, personal use only. Reselling, republishing, or forwarding the materials to libraries or reading rooms is prohibited.
ASCE Library Card (5 downloads)
$105.00
Add to cart
ASCE Library Card (20 downloads)
$280.00
Add to cart
Buy Single Article
$35.00
Add to cart

Get Access

Access content

Please select your options to get access

Log in/Register Log in via your institution (Shibboleth)
ASCE Members: Please log in to see member pricing

Purchase

Save for later Information on ASCE Library Cards
ASCE Library Cards let you download journal articles, proceedings papers, and available book chapters across the entire ASCE Library platform. ASCE Library Cards remain active for 24 months or until all downloads are used. Note: This content will be debited as one download at time of checkout.

Terms of Use: ASCE Library Cards are for individual, personal use only. Reselling, republishing, or forwarding the materials to libraries or reading rooms is prohibited.
ASCE Library Card (5 downloads)
$105.00
Add to cart
ASCE Library Card (20 downloads)
$280.00
Add to cart
Buy Single Article
$35.00
Add to cart

Media

Figures

Other

Tables

Share

Share

Copy the content Link

Share with email

Email a colleague

Share