Iron Powder/Oxygen Combustion Engine

Here’s my thinking:

  • Energy storage is a big challenge. 14 days of darkness really hampers our reliance on solar energy.
  • Nuclear isn’t an option for several reasons. The current fission reactors are too large and complicated. They generate toxic waste. Most of their components, and the fuel, can’t be made locally. Relying on nuclear power will permanently tie Homesteaders to Earth.
  • That’s it. We basically have to figure out how to use solar to store energy for the long Lunar night.

There are many potential solutions to this challenge. However, I really like this idea.

  • It’s made with 100% Lunar materials. Iron and oxygen are two of the first things we’re going to produce.
  • Nothing is toxic or exotic. 
  • It’s simple and flexible. We can use it to boil water for steam or to power a Stirling or Rankine engine. 
  • It’s completely reusable. We can use solar energy and hydrogen to return the oxidized (rusted) iron back to it’s pure state. The hydrogen combines with the oxygen to create water that we can break into hydrogen again.
  • It’s portable. Some energy storage ideas require significant infrastructure. Iron powder could be the “coal” for an entirely new energy distribution system.
  • It has applications here on Earth. Energy storage is an issue here as well. This might be a solution.

I’m sure I’m missing some stuff. Let me know if you can add to the list.We’re going to need to figure out:

  • Extracting the iron and oxygen from the basalt
  • Processing the iron into a usable form (powder)
  • Storing the oxygen and iron powder until it is needed
  • Getting the pure iron powder and oxygen to the combustion chamber
  • The combustion chamber
  • Using the heat of combustion to generate power (either electricity or mechanical work)
  • Removing the hot, oxidized iron powder from the combustion chamber
  • Removing hot gases from the combustion chamber
  • Decompose water into hydrogen and oxygen
  • Reversing the oxidization of the iron powder using hydrogen gas
  • And probably much more!

Here are some resources I’ve found already:

It looks like there is some research into this already. That’s great news! I could use your help in figuring out how advanced the tech currently is.

That’s it for now. Let me know what you think and if you’re interested in helping out with the research.


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