Japanese firm Takasago Thermal Engineering says it has delivered a water electrolyser to lunar exploration company Ispace for their joint effort to produce hydrogen directly on the moon.

The device consists of an electrolytic cell and separate storage tanks for water and the generated hydrogen. Takasago has adapted ground-based water electrolysis technology to develop its lunar surface water electrolyser to withstand harsh conditions in space. 

The technology has undergone extensive testing, including vibration, thermal vacuum, and communication, to ensure the device’s performance, Kallanish learns from the company. These tests ensure the device can offer stable fluid control even at a sixth of the Earth’s gravity, stay steady against vibrations and shocks during rocket launch and landing, and maintain equipment temperature even under vacuum.

Takasago inked a partnership agreement with Ispace in December 2019 for a private lunar exploration program called Hakuto-R. During the program’s second mission in winter 2024, the electrolyser will be mounted on top of the lunar lander, alongside water required for electrolysis. It will be launched using SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket.

After landing on the moon, the companies will attempt to produce and compress hydrogen and oxygen through electrolysis powered by solar energy. The entire mission will be controlled remotely from Ispace’s mission control centre in Nihonbashi, Tokyo through the lander’s communication equipment.

“In the future, if hydrogen and oxygen are generated from water collected on the lunar surface, the hydrogen can be used as fuel for rockets, and the oxygen can be used by humans to live on the lunar surface,” Takasago said in a statement.

If successful, the mission will mark the first time that hydrogen and oxygen are produced on the moon’s surface, paving the way for sustainable space travel, Takasago added.