Photo courtesy of Johan Swanepoel/Shutterstock

A team of ME researchers — in partnership with CisLunar Industries — were awarded a NASA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase 1 proposal. The project is titled “In-Space Recycling System Using Electromagnetic Levitation and Induction to Process Metal into Rods.”

The proposed in-space recycling system builds upon an application of electromagnetic levitation furnace technology to facilitate in-space metal recycling and reuse. This technology will allow in-space and on-orbit transformation of spent components and larger structures to be repurposed into useful products for on-orbit additive manufacturing, construction and refueling. In other words, inputs to the system are rough-cut raw materials from spent upper stage or space debris and outputs will be a uniform metal rod or ingot as feedstock for construction, additive manufacturing and as a propellant for spacecraft refueling.

The team of collaborators and researchers bring a depth of knowledge and experience that will ensure success on this project: Nanoracks LLC, Colorado School of Mines Center for Space Resources (Dr. Angel Abbud-Madrid and Dr. Chris Dreyer), M3 Robotics Lab (Dr. Andrew Petruska), Dr. Craig Brice, Joe DiPrima, and Andrew C. Young.