The European Space Agency (ESA) has announced that Metalysis, a metal powder manufacturer based in Rotheram, South Yorkshire, UK, has become the first to join its ESA Grand Challenge programme. The ESA Grand Challenge is a competition aimed at creating a new European ecosystem of entrepreneurs and start-up companies competing to develop solutions that address a range of complex problems.
The award coincides with the beginning of a consultation process with the twenty-two governments of the ESA’s Member States, preceding the launch of the first Metalysis-ESA Grand Challenge; a research and development programme sponsored by Metalysis and presided over by the ESA.
The Metalysis-ESA Grand Challenge will propose a new R&D project to investigate In Situ Resource Utilisation (ISRU), a programme exploring the extraction and production of valuable metals and advanced terrestrial manufacturing technologies that may offer solutions for the future ‘space economy’.
Following the announcement made during the Global Space Economic Workshop in Paris, France, Dr Dion Vaughan, Metalysis CEO, stated, “An R&D project which contemplates taking our technology and applying it to 3D printing systems in terraforming environments is an ambitious undertaking, enabled by our next phase of scale-up in the UK.”
Metalysis has spent more than a decade developing and scaling up its electrochemical technology , which converts refined oxides and unbeneficiated ores directly into metal powders, often used in high value manufacturing, including Additive Manufacturing.
At its South Yorkshire headquarters, the company reports that it is scaling up ‘Generation 4’ of its technology. Generation 4, which Metalysis is on track to complete in 2017, will subsequently enable ‘Generation 5’: manufacturing options for thousands of tonnes per annum of metal and alloy powders.
“ESA’s focus on developing transferable technologies, with industries offering economic benefits on Earth and in space, is an excellent fit for Metalysis as we progress to our Generation 5 project, which will showcase multiple modular electrochemical units, adjustable within a Factory of the Future manufacturing scenario,” Vaughan concluded.