Lunar dust is the fine powder of the moon's surface regolith. The dust particles can be highly charged due to solar irradiation, and the dry lunar environment helps these particles hold their static charge and adhere to surfaces. Lunar dust degrades both spacesuits and equipment. TDA proposes to develop a nanocomposite coating offering excellent passive dust mitigation (more than 90% efficacy). The nanocomposite coating will perform at cryogenic temperatures; be abrasion resistant; adhere to the underlying metal, plastic, and fabric surfaces; has low surface energy; and match the lunar dust's work function. The combination of these properties will minimize dust adhesion in a challenging cryogenic lunar environment. Also, the coating properties are compatible with existing active dust mitigation technologies. In the Phase I project we will demonstrate the lunar dust mitigation of the coating in experimental testing under ambient and vacuum conditions. In Phase II we will optimize the properties of the coat to reject dust adhesion, and perform the qualification steps for the flight infusion demonstration. There are no similar cryogenic coating technologies that are commercial or have been reported in the open sources.
The proposed technology will be applicable to all lunar and planetary applications (e.g., Mars) where there is a surface that attracts the dust. This includes structural elements such as buildings, doors, vehicles (especially the heat exchangers), and generally any equipment where a coating of dust degrades the performance.
Our technology can be used for coating heat exchanger fins and honeycombs. It is easy to apply in a thin layer, without degrading the heat exchanger properties. Since it is thin and we have a continuous pathway of high thermal conductivity metals (versus the polymer) it will not degrade heat transfer. It will reject dust adhesion on the fins or honeycombs, preserving heat exchanger efficiency.