At about 6:55 into the video Why Moon Mining Will DEFINITELY Be A Thing it is stated that lunar silica (SiO2) could be turned into silane (SiH4), which is the silicon analogue of methane. It also states that silane could be used as a rocket fuel, which when combined with oxygen would produce water and silica.

Two questions come to mind:

  1. Has silane ever seriously been considered as a potential rocket fuel and,
  2. With silica being a product of combustion with oxygen there is a possibility that silica could be deposited on the inside of the exhaust nozzle. Would this be a serious problem?
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ actually silica deposits could be a huge plus. some engines add silicon oils into the fuel mixture to coat the nozzle and chamber walls and protect it from heat. It doesn't get out of hand either, with it being added on as fast as it is stripped away. $\endgroup$ Aug 5 at 4:19
  • $\begingroup$ Semiconductor manufacturing uses (or at least used) silane in several processes, so does optical fiber manufacturing. We are taught in safety class that when it burns in oxygen it just precipitates silica smoke or sand; I don't think the prospects are good for several reasons. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Aug 5 at 8:48
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Oh, no wonder this sounded familiar Can Pyroxene and other silicon compound be used as a theoretical spacecraft fuel? $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Aug 5 at 8:50
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @uhoh - you make it sound so safe! Venting silane certainly makes a very nice flame, although I can't say much about whatever is left since it was being sucked up the gas cabinet exhaust quickly. Disilane was much more exciting, since its LEV is substantially lower, making a much longer burn time when purging the regulator while changing bottles. $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Aug 5 at 14:55
  • $\begingroup$ It sounds like you had much more fun than I did; I was simply told to run away! $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Aug 5 at 14:57

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.