Made Under Constraints - Bioelectrochemical enrichment of metals from regolith for extraterrestrial settlements


The motivation of this project is the search for new technological approaches for the extraterrestrial fabrication of metal alloys under tough environmental constraints, in particular the limitation of utilizing mineral and energy resources available in situ on Mars or Moon. Such technologies would also be a first step towards a more sustainable steel production on Earth.

More specifically, the project aims at exploring bio-based possibilities to extract iron species from regolith and enrich them as purified iron compounds. These compounds are then used in steel-making processes based on non-conventional metallurgy. In this project, microbial electrochemical systems (MES; e.g microbial fuel cells  and microbial electrolysis cells) will be used for enhanced production and selective recovery of metal ion species. Microbial communities developing in MES will be characterized using state-of-the-art tools such as high-throughput sequencing, metagenomics and metatranscriptomics.