Press Release

Metalysis is Leading The Way in Space Exploration

By SpaceRef Editor
July 29, 2021
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Scientists at a Rotherham-based tech firm are over the moon after making ground-breaking
developments that could shape the future of space exploration.

Metalysis, which manufactures premium solid-state metal and alloy powders, is leading the way in
mine-to-metal production, whilst also pushing the boundaries in research. The firm has successfully
extracted oxygen from replicated moonrock (lunar regolith) which predominantly contains aluminium,
silicon, and oxygen, as part of a revolutionary research programme. The metal powder by-product
collected during the process is also generating huge interest.In-Situ Resource Utilisation (ISRU), i.e.,
the ability to simultaneously extract oxygen, in conjunction with producing usable metal powders on
the moon is vital for future exploration and habitation, being essential for sustainable long duration
activities in space. Such activity features heavily in the ‘Plan for Sustained Lunar Exploration and
Development’ by NASA, ESA’s ‘Space Resources Strategy’ and missions of other National Space

The research, which was conducted by Metalysis using patented processes, has produced a multi-
kilogram batch of metal powder from the lunar regolith, opening possibilities to make products to
scale, rather than just acquiring samples. This is the first time the metal powder by-product has been
produced in these quantities, sparking much interest from customers, and other interested parties, to
carry out their own testing and further research. Since the material is in powder form, it is ideal to be
used in techniques such as Additive Manufacturing (AM), both for space infrastructure development
and in-situ equipment manufacturing.

The advancements with metal powder production, combined with oxygen extraction lays a path for
great opportunities both in space and on earth. Where weight, size and energy are all a premium
concern, the research shows possibilities in helping to reduce energy footprints. On a space journey
to Mars for example, the extraction of oxygen could see a refuelling station on the Moon!

Learning surrounding the extracted metal powders is also applicable to the on-earth manufacture of
products, which could be used in a range of fast-growing applications including medical prosthesis,
vehicle, and aviation lightweighting, electronics, magnetic materials, as well as space exploration.

Metalysis, which has both research and production facilities based in Rotherham, has doubled in size
in recent months and already has a global reach. The company, which was born over 15 years ago,
has gone from strength to strength in recent years, driving forward initiatives such as this research
programme, funded by themselves, as well as other privately and publicly sponsored projects looking
to advance the potential of metal powders both on earth and in space.

Speaking about the project, Ian Mellor, Managing Director at Metalysis said: “We are excited to be at
the forefront of this In-Situ Resource Utilisation activity, demonstrating multiple kilogram batches of
metal alloy powder can be produced from moon rock, using the Metalysis technology. This enables
new design opportunities in the construction of lunar habitats, which until now could only be
envisaged conceptionally.”

Metalysis is funded by the UK Space Agency through the European Space Agency.

Sue Horne, Head of Space Exploration at the UK Space Agency, said: “The UK is playing a leading
role in space exploration, including the Rosalind Franklin rover which launches next year to search for
signs of life on Mars.

“Finding ways to create the things we need to support life – food, water and breathable air – will be
essential for longer-term crewed missions into deep space. This exciting research from Metalysis
brings us a step closer to making that possible.”

Rotherham MP John Healey, who has known the company since it first set up in the Dearne, said:
“We’re proud Metalysis set up in South Yorkshire with its global ground-breaking process for rare
metals production.

“Metalysis is a company that has established new frontiers in science, now it could help set new
frontiers in space.” 

SpaceRef staff editor.