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Blue Origin Makes Solar Cell From Lunar Regolith 

Blue Origin has provided an update on its Blue Alchemist project, perhaps one of its most ambitious and exciting yet. Through the process of melting regolith-like materials and then electrolysing them, Blue Alchemist breaks down various elements that make up lunar dust, creating by-products such as silicon, as well as iron, aluminum, and oxygen.

Blue Origin took development very seriously and used imitation regolith equivalent to the lunar one “both chemically and mineralogically”, taking into account the composition and structure of the raw materials. A special reactor showed the ability to smelt iron, then silicon, and then aluminum from it using the electrolysis of molten regolith, which makes it possible to separate these elements from the oxygen associated with them, such substances are common on the lunar surface. It is important that oxygen, essential for propulsion and life support, is only a “by-product” in the process.

The Blue Alchemist reactor first melts the regolith and then subject it to electrolysis, that is, passing current through the molten material, at temperatures above 1600°C. Through this operation and Blue Origin’s patented reactor geometry, iron is extracted first, then silicon, and finally aluminum.

The purity of the resulting silicon is more than 99.999%, this level allows you to create very efficient solar cells. At the same time, the company emphasizes that on Earth, to obtain a material of such purity, one has to use highly toxic and even explosive substances, and the technological process developed for the Moon is almost completely environmentally safe.

According to Blue Origin, the company is preparing technologies taking into account the interests of NASA, which has called the creation of infrastructure on the Moon and Mars a top priority for the space program.

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