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3D-Printing Batteries from Lunar and Martian Soil: A New Frontier in Space Exploration and Sustainable Living

Mar. 24, 2023.
1 min. read. . 0

UTEP joins NASA project to 3D-print batteries from lunar and Martian soil for sustainable space missions.

About the Writer

Lewis Farrell

14.20262 MPXR

Highly curious about things that increase my awareness, expand my perception, and make me open to being a better person.

The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) has collaborated with NASA on a project to create rechargeable batteries from lunar and Martian regolith, the top layer of materials covering the moon and Mars’ surfaces. This technology will allow the use of locally available resources on the moon or Mars to develop infrastructure such as habitation modules, power generation, and energy storage facilities, maximizing the sustainability of future astronaut missions.

The UTEP team has devised a novel method for producing shape-conformable batteries using 3D printing techniques such as material extrusion (ME) and vat photopolymerization (VPP). By filling the dimensions of objects, these complex 3D battery designs outperform existing commercial batteries. Because lithium, a component of commercial lithium-ion batteries, is scarcely available on the moon, the team is currently focusing on sodium-ion battery chemistry.

Aside from space exploration, the project could have terrestrial applications such as building small, self-sustaining homes for disaster relief and developing countries. Batteries could be embedded in 3D-printed concrete walls and linked to solar panels.

The expertise of the UTEP team in both energy storage and 3D printing will be critical to the project’s success. Alexis Maurel, Ana C. Martinez, Sreeprasad Sreenivasan, and Eric MacDonald make up the team, and they are all experts in their fields. The team will identify and extract battery materials and precursors from lunar and Martian regolith, create composite resin feedstocks for each component of the sodium-ion battery, and electrochemically test the finished 3D-printed sodium-ion battery components.

Source: American Chemical Society Publications (link)
Images: MidJourney, Prompts by Lewis Farrell

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