Montanuniversit√?¬§t Leoben, Austria
Posters & Accepted Abstracts: J Aeronaut Aerospace Eng
Extra-terrestrial mining means operating in remote areas under extreme radiation conditions and low gravity. These circumstances necessitate rethinking current excavation methods used for extracting raw materials from the earths√Ę¬?¬? crust. Especially the low-gravity conditions will change the way forces are applied to the rock mass in order to use its fragment size and subsequently processing it. With currently used machinery and technology, mining machines are comparably heavy and apply high forces to the rock mass. Blasting will apply an even bigger shock wave causing fragmentation of ores. Since the application of high forces will not be possible in space and it is extremely expensive to transport heavy equipment to space alternative ways of rock fragmentation and excavation which mitigate these issues are widely investigated. This paper will discuss the problems associated with mining in remote environments, especially under low gravity conditions as on asteroids or the moon. An overview will be provided on different alternative fragmentation concepts highlighting their pros and cons in this context. Special insights will be provided on the use of microwave irradiation of hard rocks and the consequences on excavation forces. Experimental results will be provided showing how microwave irradiation of hard rocks leads to a reduction of cutting forces by 10%.
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