LUWEX water on the moon

Validation of Lunar Water Extraction and Purification Technologies for In-Situ Propellant and Consumables Production

November 2022 – October 2024
EU-HORIZON project funded under GA 101081937

The utilisation of available local resources is key to a sustainable human presence on the moon or Mars and beyond. Indications for the availability of local raw water ice trapped in the lunar and Martian soil provide the motivation and substantial interest in viable technical solutions for finding, extracting, purifying and utilizing in situ-water. Previous research activities regarding lunar water extraction were mostly performed as theoretical system studies, complemented by a few small-scale experiments.

The interdisciplinary LUWEX team coming from Germany, Austria, Poland and Italy is designing and testing a novel water extractor that will be able to process several kilograms of lunar regolith containing enough water ice to support a purification process downstream. The terrestrial demonstration system will operate under a similar low pressure and low temperature environment as on the moon.

To test the system in the laboratory, a mix from water ice particles and lunar regolith simulant will substitute for real lunar sand as is expected to be found in some craters at the lunar south polar region. By applying heat, the vaporizing water is extracted and collected. After liquefaction, the raw water is put through a purification process. The purified water is then ready for use in the form of propellant, for energy storage and for life support, or for a glass of Adam’s ale from the moon.

Consortium partners  

Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt, Germany / LIQUIFER Systems Group, Austria / Technische Universität Braunschweig, Germany / Scanway sp. z o. o., Poland / Wroclaw University for Science and Technology, Poland / Thales Alenia Space, Italy

LIQUIFER team  René Waclavicek, Monika Brandic Lipinska, Bob Davenport, Chris Gilbert, Barbara Imhof