Blue Origin aims to turn moon dirt into solar cells

Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space venture isn’t just working on rockets and space stations: The Kent, Wash.-based company is also developing a technology that could someday transform the moon’s soil into materials for electricity-producing solar cells and transmission wire.

That branch of Blue Origin’s advanced development programs takes the spotlight in a blog item posted to the company’s website. The underlying approach — called molten regolith electrolysis, or MRE — has been the subject of research for decades, but Blue Origin says it’s refined the technique over the past two years.

“We can make power systems on the moon directly from materials that exist everywhere on the surface, without special substances brought from Earth,” the company says. “We have pioneered the technology and demonstrated all the steps. Our approach, Blue Alchemist, can scale indefinitely, eliminating power as a constraint anywhere on the moon.”

By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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