Static and Kinetic Friction Coefficients for Regolith Delivery into a Molten Regolith Electrolysis Reactor

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics


The handling and transportation of rocky unconsolidated material (regolith) on celestial bodies, such as the lunar surface, is an important step for its utilization as a resource to meet manufacturing needs and achieve a sustained human presence on these bodies. Lunar regolith is considered a feedstock that must be delivered to processing reactors, like a molten regolith electrolysis (MRE) reactor, either as is or beneficiated prior to its transformation into usable commodities. The transportation of lunar regolith is difficult as it does not flow well, is abrasive, and can cause significant wear to parts and surfaces over long exposure periods. 110-H02 copper, 304 stainless-steel, nonporous alumina ceramic, and 6061 aluminum were all tested to determine short term scratch wear effects caused by exposure to lunar regolith simulant. This research investigates the change lunar regolith simulant imparts on these surfaces by calculating friction coefficients before, during, and after lunar regolith simulant exposure. This kind of parameterization is novel and will help set requirements for systems exposed or transporting lunar regolith simulant on the surface of the Moon.

Publication Title

Earth and Space 2022: Space Exploration, Utilization, Engineering, and Construction in Extreme Environments - Selected Papers from the 18th Biennial International Conference on Engineering, Science, Construction, and Operations in Challenging Environments