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Sol-Gel Precursors for Ceramics from Minerals Simulating Soils from the Moon and MarsRecent NASA mission plans for the human exploration of our Solar System has set new priorities for research and development of technologies necessary to enable a long-term human presence on the Moon and Mars. The recovery and processing of metals and oxides from mineral sources on other planets is under study to enable use of ceramics, glasses and metals by explorer outposts. We report some preliminary results on the production of sol-gel precursors for ceramic products using mineral resources available in Martian or Lunar soil. The presence of SiO2, TiO2, and A12O3 in both Martian (44 wt.% SiO2, 1 wt.% TiO2, 7 wt.% Al2O3) and Lunar (48 wt.% SiO2, 1.5 wt.% TiO2, 16 wt.% Al2O3) soils and the recent developments in chemical processes to solubilize silicates using organic reagents and relatively little energy indicate that such an endeavor is possible. In order to eliminate the risks involved in the use of hydrofluoric acid to dissolve silicates, two distinct chemical routes are investigated to obtain soluble silicon oxide precursors from Lunar and Martian simulant soils. Clear sol-gel precursors have been obtained by dissolution of silica from Lunar simulant soil in basic ethylene glycol (C2H4(OH)2) solutions to form silicon glycolates. Thermogravimetric Analysis and X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy were used to characterize the elemental composition and structure of the precursor molecules. Further concentration and hydrolysis of the products was performed to obtain gel materials for evaluation as ceramic precursors. In the second set of experiments, we used the same starting materials to synthesize silicate esters in acidified alcohol mixtures. Preliminary results indicate the presence of silicon alkoxides in the product of distillation.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Sibille, Laurent
Gavira-Gallardo, Jose-Antonio
Hourlier-Bahloul, Djamila
Date Acquired
August 21, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2003
Subject Category
Inorganic, Organic and Physical Chemistry
Meeting Information
105th Annual Meeting of the American Ceramic Society(Nashville, TN)
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.