American Society of Civil Engineers

Electrostatic Transport of Lunar Soil for In Situ Resource Utilization

by H. Kawamoto, (No affiliation information available.) and K. Shirai, (Dept. of Applied Mechanics and Aerospace Engineering, Waseda University, Shinjuku, Tokyo 169-8555, Japan E-mail:
Section: Symposium 1: 4th NASA/ARO/ASCE Workshop on Granular Materials in Lunar and Martian Exploration, pp. 57-65, (doi:

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Document type: Conference Proceeding Paper
Part of: Earth and Space 2010: Engineering, Science, Construction, and Operations in Challenging Environments
Abstract: In order to realize a long-term lunar exploration, it is essential to develop a technology for transporting lunar soil for in-situ resource utilization. We are developing a particle transport system that uses electrostatic traveling-waves. The conveyer consists of parallel electrodes printed on a plastic substrate. Four-phase rectangular voltage is applied to the electrodes to transport particles on the conveyer. Ultrasonic vibration was applied to the conveyer to transport particles efficiently. The following points are the outline of our investigation: (1) The observed transport rate in air was 2 g/min. Through numerical calculations based on the 3D distinct element method, we predicted that the system performance would improve in the high vacuum and low-gravity environment on the moon. (2) The power consumption of this system is very less. It was only 4 W for a 1-m2 area of the conveyer. (3) We demonstrated an inclined and curved transport path as well as a flat and straight transport path. In addition, we demonstrated that transportation of particles through a tube and accumulation of scattered particles were also possible.

ASCE Subject Headings:
Transport phenomena