A document discusses WIEVRs, a means to extract water ice more efficiently than previous approaches. This water may exist in subsurface deposits on the Moon, in many NEOs (Near- Earth Objects), and on Mars. The WIEVR approach utilizes heat from the Sun to vaporize subsurface ice; the water (or other volatile) vapor is transported to a surface collection vessel where it is condensed (and collected). The method does not involve mining and extracting regolith before removing the frozen volatiles, so it uses less energy and is less costly than approaches that require mining of regolith.

The only drilling required for establishing the WIEVR collection/recovery system is a well-bore drill hole. In its simplest form, the WIEVRs will function without pumps, compressors, or other gas-moving equipment, relying instead on diffusive transport and thermally induced convection of the vaporized volatiles for transport to the collection location(s). These volatile extraction wells could represent a significant advance in extraction efficiency for recovery of frozen volatiles in subsurface deposits on the Moon, Mars, or other extraterrestrial bodies.

This work was done by Otis R. Walton of Grainflow Dynamics Inc. for Glenn Research Center.

Inquiries concerning rights for the commercial use of this invention should be addressed to NASA Glenn Research Center, Innovative Partnerships Office, Attn: Steven Fedor, Mail Stop 4–8, 21000 Brookpark Road, Cleveland, Ohio 44135. LEW-19017-1

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the July, 2013 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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