5 month 5 Japan , Nanjing University 、 Chinese University of Hong Kong （ Shenzhen ）、 The research team of the University of science and technology of China published in international academic journals 《 Joules 》 According to an article in , The team is analyzing the lunar soil retrieved by Chang'e 5 in detail （ Hereinafter referred to as Chang'e 5 lunar soil ） After the element and mineral structure , Lunar soil was found to contain some active compounds . They can be used as catalysts , With the help of sunlight , Convert water and carbon dioxide into oxygen 、 Hydrogen and methane 、 methanol .
Based on this discovery , The team proposed a strategy of using lunar soil for extraterrestrial artificial photosynthesis , Hope to realize “ Zero energy consumption ” Lay the material foundation for the lunar life support system , To support lunar exploration 、 Research and travel .
caption ： The team through advanced representation means , Confirm the surface structure of lunar soil 、 composition , It shows that the lunar soil contains about 24 Different crystalline minerals 、 about 13 Element composition , And repeated verification .
Element composition and micro nano structure of lunar soil , Make its catalytic performance high
Extraterrestrial artificial light synthesis technology , It refers to simulating the natural photosynthesis of green plants on earth , Using sunlight , The carbon dioxide exhaled by humans and the water resources mined in situ on the moon , Technology for conversion to oxygen and hydrocarbons . In the process , If there is a catalyst , Higher conversion efficiency .
Lunar soil is one of the most abundant resources on the moon .2021 year , Nanjing University won 1 Ke's Chang'e 5 lunar soil , The scientific research team that published the results made use of 0.2 Gram to study , Found some characteristics of lunar soil .
“ Chang'e-5 lunar soil comes from very young basalt on the lunar surface , This mineral is rich in iron 、 Titanium and other commonly used catalyst components in artificial photosynthesis . The team uses methods such as machine learning , The structure of lunar soil has been analyzed for many times , It is found that there are about 24 A crystalline mineral , Among them, ilmenite 、 Titanium oxide 、 hydroxyapatite , And a variety of iron-based compounds 8 A crystalline mineral , It can play a better catalytic performance in artificial light synthesis .” Co first author of the paper 、 Yao Yingfang, a professor at Nanjing University, told Science and technology daily .
How about the actual catalytic performance of lunar soil ？ The research team used lunar soil as photovoltaic electrolytic water 、 Photocatalytic water decomposition 、 Photocatalytic carbon dioxide reduction 、 Photocatalyst is a catalyst material for carbon dioxide hydrogenation and other reactions , It is found that it can be used in photovoltaic electrolytic water and photothermal catalytic carbon dioxide hydrogenation , It has high performance and selectivity .
“ In these experiments , We applied simulated sunlight , Water 、 Carbon dioxide as raw material , Compare the lunar soil with the simulated lunar soil retrieved by the Apollo program and the basalt on the earth's surface , It is found that the three are in the photovoltaic electrolytic water reaction , Chang'e-5 lunar soil is the most efficient to produce oxygen and hydrogen . In the photothermal catalytic hydrogenation of carbon dioxide , Methane produced by the lunar soil of Chang'e 5 、 Methanol is also more efficient than other materials .” Yao Yingfang said happily , Oxygen can provide life support for human beings , Methane is an effective component of rocket propellant , Methanol is the raw material of organic chemicals .
The study also points out that , The surface of lunar soil is rich in micropores and vesicles ,“ The larger the surface area of lunar soil , The more gas you can contact , The better the catalytic performance , This micro nano structure further improves the catalytic performance of lunar soil .” Yao Yingfang said .
caption ： The scientific research team passed the test and analysis , Put forward the potential scheme of using lunar soil to realize extraterrestrial survival on the lunar surface
Further tests will be sought in the space station or lunar spacecraft
Based on the above analysis , The research team focused on the lunar environment , The strategy and steps of extraterrestrial artificial photosynthesis using lunar soil are proposed .
“ Using the moon at night about -173°C Extremely low temperature , Condense and separate carbon dioxide from the air that humans breathe . Then use the sunlight , Chang'e-5 lunar soil is used as an electrocatalyst for water decomposition and a photothermal catalyst for carbon dioxide hydrogenation , The exhaust gas exhaled by humans 、 The water resources mined on the lunar surface are converted into oxygen 、 hydrogen 、 Methane and methanol .” Yao Yingfang said , Using extraterrestrial artificial light synthesis technology , Maybe just the solar energy on the moon 、 Water and lunar soil , Can produce oxygen and hydrocarbons , The technology can also rely on the temperature environment of the lunar surface , Realize low energy consumption and efficient energy conversion . This provides a potential scheme for establishing an in-situ resource utilization system suitable for the extreme environment of the moon .
Although the catalytic efficiency of lunar soil is lower than that of catalysts available on earth , But Yao Yingfang said , The research team will also separate the effective catalytic components in lunar soil 、 refine , Hope to get better catalytic effect .
however , Whether the extraterrestrial artificial light synthesis technology can be realized in the real lunar environment , Further verification is needed . Yao Yingfang introduced , They are striving to carry the extraterrestrial artificial light synthesis system to the Chinese space station next year , Or strive to carry the system into the spacecraft of China's lunar exploration program .
“ If lunar soil or lunar soil extract can be used as artificial photocatalyst on the moon , It can greatly reduce the load and cost of spacecraft , Maybe we can use local materials on the moon in the future , Provide life support for astronauts , And prepare fuel .” Yao Yingfang looks forward to .