The GLAMS Project aims to create structural elements for the construction of lunar bases through 3D printing of lunar soils

Funded by ASI – the Italian Space Agency, the two years GLAMS Project (Geopolymers for Additive Manufacturing and Lunar Monitoring) aims to create structural elements for the construction of lunar bases through a 3D printing approach that uses cement binders extracted from lunar soils (regolith).

By exploiting locally available raw materials, the concept of the project is to minimize the costs and environmental impact due to the transport of raw materials from Earth to the Moon.

Coordinated by the Center for Space Studies and Activities “Giuseppe Colombo” (CISAS) of the University of Padua, the GLAMS Project holds a partnership with the Institute of Condensed Matter Chemistry and Energy Technologies of the CNR (ICMATE) based in Genoa and WASP, the Italian leader of 3D printing. The project includes Professor Luca Valentini of the Department of Geosciences as scientific manager and Prof Carlo Bettanini and Dr. Giorgia Franchin of the Department of Industrial Engineering who will lead specific work packages.

The research team intends to optimize the lunar cement formulated from regolith soils found on the Moon. The base must consider environmental conditions, including high temperature ranges, reduced gravity, atmospheric pressure, and possible impact of micrometeorites.

During the first phase of the project, Luca Valentini and Giorgia Franchin will guide the research unit of the University of Padua for the formulation of the ‘geo polymer binders’ obtained from the chemical activation of lunar regolith.

From here, the Institute of Condensed Matter Chemistry and Energy Technologies of the CNR of Genoa will select suitable foaming agents that ensure a macro-porous structure affixed to the hardened geopolymeric binder.

Subsequently, WASP will implement the formulations undertaken during the previous phases of the project, to create a prototype of the structural element of a medium-scale macro-porous structure fabricated through 3D printing.

Finally, a group coordinated by Carlo Bettanini will provide sensors for the structural elements, integrating appropriate sensor networks, aimed at the continuous monitoring of micro-meteoritic impacts.

The hope is that the GLAMS Project will help meet the needs of space agencies by creating semi-permanent human settlements on the Moon within the next decade.