Steam Injection System for Lunar Concrete

by Dennis M. Pakulski, United States Air Force Acad, USAFA, United States,
Kenneth J. Knox, United States Air Force Acad, USAFA, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Engineering, Construction, and Operations in Space III


Since January 1989, the Department of Civil Engineering at the United States Air Force Academy has been conducting research on the use of concrete for constructing permanent facilities on the moon. Virtually all materials required for concrete are available from lunar resources. New technologies for casting concrete are required, however, due to the lack of atmosphere and scarcity of water. A system for hydrating a dry concrete mix using only steam injected under pressure has been developed. This procedure was suggested by Dr. T.D. Lin of Construction Technologies Laboratories as a possible means to hydrate lunar concrete in a vacuum while minimizing the amount of water required. The feasibility of steam hydration of concrete has been demonstrated in tests at the Academy, producing one-hour old concrete with almost 5000 psi compressive strength after only 25 minutes exposure to steam. Using Design of Experiments (DOE) methodologies, the effects of time of steam exposure, steam pressure, curing time, ratio of cement to aggregate, and compaction level are quantified. A secondary, albeit very important, objective of this paper is to introduce and demonstrate the use of DOE methodologies to quantify the effects input factors to a process have on the measured responses of the process. Proper application of these approaches can be a powerful and extraordinarily efficient analysis tool to aid in the evaluation of complex systems.

Subject Headings: Moon | Concrete | Lunar materials | Compressive strength | Resource management | United States armed forces | Water shortage | Space construction | United States

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