Rosalba Huerta and Katelynn Sprandel, “Study of Lunar Regolith Material in Concrete Systems for Construction”
Mentor: Konstantin Sobolev, Civil & Environmental Engineering
With an increase in deep space exploration, many programs are looking to create infrastructure using locally available materials, often referred to as in-situ resource utilization (ISRU). In order to decrease the dependence of supplies from Earth, our group researched the use of simulated lunar regolith (LR) from Uplift Aerospace as supplementary cementitious material (SCM) or aggregate. The regolith simulant is a commercial product, which closely matches the mineralogy of the surface on the moon, that was provided in forms of coarse and fine material to be studied for their suitability in concrete systems. A series of material characterization tests were conducted to verify the composition, size, distribution, and reactivity of the material to qualify their use as SCM. Following the characterization, separation and milling of the material, concrete samples were created with an increasing amount of fine LR, replacing Portland cement ranging from 15 to 60 weight percent. These concrete samples were then subjected to compressive testing to obtain 7-day and 28-day strength and compared to a standard Portland cement sample. Due to the chemical composition of the material, the increase in simulated fine LR led to a decrease in cement reactivity and compressive strength, while the use of milled LR aggregate as a substitution for sand performed equal and better than standard sand. The future scope of this project can be adapted for Earth applications using materials that resemble lunar regolith with plagioclase, pyroxene, and olivine content for use as SCM.