Title Polyurethane Chemistry in Space
Source Proc. Intl. SAMPE 09 Symp. and Exhib.
Year 2009
Author(s) Gosau, J. M.; Barlow, J. P.; Wesley, T. F. ; Allred, R. E.
Abstract Future space exploration past the earth orbit has a significant need for manufacturing-in-space beyond simple assembly of prefabricated parts. The two main areas of research right now are large structures and in-situ resource utilization. The next generation of very large aperture antennas will exceed the size achievable with conventional folding mesh technologies, and new concepts are needed to support football field size structures. Envisioned lunar bases will need to have to deal with the omnipresent regolith, both as a resource and as a hazard. Adherent Technologies, Inc. has, under NASA funding, developed technologies to address both problems using the formation of polyurethanes in a vacuum environment. Large inflatable structures can be stabilized by the formation of polyurethane foams of controlled density. Regolith on the moon can be used as a building material by binding it into bricks with nonfoaming polyurethane mixtures, and the regolith dust can be controlled by the application of thin polyurethane layers. The paper describes the challenges of performing chemistry in a vacuum environment, especially of obtaining controlled foaming of polyurethanes, and the solutions developed.
Keywords polyurethane, regolith, space application, lunar structures, controlled foaming, NASA