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SELECTBIO Conferences The Space Summit 2019


Tiny Spaces for the Infinite Space: Continuous-Flow- and Plasma Chemistry-based Technology Systems for Space Manufacturing?

Volker Hessel, Professor, The University of Adelaide

This talk likes to give a perspective on the use of continuous-flow- and plasma chemistry-based Technology Systems for space manufacturing. Main message is: space manufacturing is “off-earth manufacturing” - the advanced technologies will have dual use: also on earth, e.g. in deep sea, in dry lands, and other disruptive scenarios.

Space Manufacturing is by no means anymore a vision of a Jules Verne novel or a Kubrick science-fiction movie. It is silently, yet consistently underway and much further developed than public perception is aware [Avchare, Int. J. Sci. Res. Pub. 4, 2014, 1]. Patents are filed for outer-space manufacture and a book gives guidance on ‘the protection of intellectual property rights in outer space activities’ [Leepuengtham, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2017]. NASA’s Commercial Space Transportation Study estimates 4,000 lb as practical cargo mass for a commercial space manufacturing/processing system as orbiting service module []. The threshold for a positive revenue is about > 10 dollars/g (gold: 40 dollars/g). Today’s highest priced pharmaceuticals fall in this category, having annual costs of 50,000 dollars per patient, and more.

Consistently, Eli Lilly, top-15 global pharma company, have made experiments at the International Space Station (ISS) []. Recently, MIT’s spin-off Zaiput Flow Technologies send his flow extractor via the CRS-13 cargo resupply service to the ISS []. The possible use of nanoparticles to treat osteoporosis has been tested during the recent Italian mission Futura on the ISS [¬Human_Spaceflight/Futura].

Giving feasibility and cost-effectiveness, what are major business windows, with chemistry involvement, in the outer space? (a) Space medicine: pharmaceuticals and drug formulations; (b) Space Chemistry: crystals and alloys; (c) Space mining:  metals, carbon, water, helium-3 and more on planets, dwarf planets, asteroids, and other near-earth objects; (d) Space farming: fertilizer manufacture, phosphorus mining

Space medicine is already now a business case and the next cancer drug might be developed in space. A think tank analysis has been made how to make medicines and nanoformulations stable to cosmic rays.

Space mining is at the edge to become a business case. Flow-based extraction of artificial asteroid ores is investigated with coiled micro-flow inverters, posing adjacent metal separation tasks, not known on earth. A topic of similar importance is the continuous-flow based soil-solvent extraction of phosphorus (with and without rare earths); the remote mine might be in Morocco’s Western Sahara or in Moon’s Procellarum KREEP Terrane.

Space farming is a mid-term development issue, and plasma based N-fixation can play a key role in planet colonialization [Hessel, Ullmann’s Encyclopedia, 2018].

Space chemistry research on flow-made quantum dots will be presented, hosted on a satellite, will be reported, to sever as satellite decoy for counterstrike measure. This demands fluid flow without pumps. A stop-flow for three reaction steps comprises solid-liquid mixing under zero gravity, heating and reaction, and ejection of a nanodust cloud in the space.

In addition, space manufacturing can help understanding fundamental questions of curiosity-driven research

(e) Understanding fundamental questions which needs experiments not possible on earth (chirality, tunneling, diffusion);

Obviously such ambitious endeavor in the harsh space environment - vacuum, coldness, intense irradiation, low degree of logistics - is only possible with the most advanced process chemistry. A very compact format is required and the processing needs to be automated, seeing the high transport costs and remote location. Flow Chemistry and its novel process windows [Hessel, ChemSusChem 6, 2013, 746] operates with capillary f

Add to Calendar ▼2019-10-14 00:00:002019-10-15 00:00:00Europe/LondonThe Space Summit 2019The Space Summit 2019 in Coronado Island, CaliforniaCoronado Island,