Physical Sciences Inc. (PSI) proposes to develop a solar concentrator system for lunar In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) applications. In this system, solar radiation is collected using a concentrator array that transfers the concentrated solar radiation to the optical waveguide (OW) transmission cable made of low loss optical fibers. The OW transmission line directs the solar radiation to the thermal receiver for thermochemical processing of lunar regolith. Key features of the proposed system are:
PSI proposes to develop component and subsystem technologies for the solar concentrator system for lunar ISRU applications including: oxygen extraction from lunar regolith. At the conclusion of the proposed effort, PSI will have demonstrated collection and transmission of the solar power using an optical waveguide consistent with the requirements of the Lunar ISRU application of oxygen production. The Phase II demonstration will use a single facet solar collector, capture of the solar radiation using a light-weight, space qualifiable optical waveguide and transmission and illumination of a simulated regolith material consistent with the requirements of a carbothermal reactor used for the production of oxygen for Lunar applications.
The primary application of the proposed solar concentrator system is for the production of oxygen and other useful materials on the lunar surface. The solar concentrator system can be used for sintering lunar regolith for surface stabilization and construction. In addition, the system can be used for thermal or electric power generation and plant lighting and illumination for the lunar base. Therefore, the solar concentrator system is the key enabling technology for building up the infrastructure for the lunar base.
There are a number of terrestrial uses for the solar concentrator system related to heating applications including water heating (for domestic and industrial usage), transportable heat source for the detoxification of contaminated soil, heat engine for small power plants and industrial process heat. Also concentrator subsystems may find applications for building and indoor plant growth lighting.