Integrated lunar materials manufacturing process
- Gibson, Michael A.
- August 14, 1990.
- Physical Description:
- 1 electronic document
- Additional Creators:
- Knudsen, Christian W.
- hdl.handle.net , Connect to this object online.
- Restrictions on Access:
- Unclassified, Unlimited, Publicly available.
Free-to-read Unrestricted online access
- A manufacturing plant and process for production of oxygen on the moon uses lunar minerals as feed and a minimum of earth-imported, process materials. Lunar feed stocks are hydrogen-reducible minerals, ilmenite and lunar agglutinates occurring in numerous, explored locations mixed with other minerals in the pulverized surface layer of lunar soil known as regolith. Ilmenite (FeTiO.sub.3) and agglutinates contain ferrous (Fe.sup.+2) iron reducible by hydrogen to yield H.sub.2 O and metallic Fe at about 700.degree.-1,200.degree. C. The H.sub.2 O is electrolyzed in gas phase to yield H.sub.2 for recycle and O.sub.2 for storage and use. Hydrogen losses to lunar vacuum are minimized, with no net hydrogen (or any other earth-derived reagent) consumption except for small leaks. Feed minerals are surface-mined by front shovels and transported in trucks to the processing area. The machines are manned or robotic. Ilmenite and agglutinates occur mixed with silicate minerals which are not hydrogen-reducible at 700.degree.-1,200.degree. C. and consequently are separated and concentrated before feeding to the oxygen generation process. Solids rejected from the separation step and reduced solids from the oxygen process are returned to the mine area. The plant is powered by nuclear or solar power generators. Vapor-phase water electrolysis, a staged, countercurrent, fluidized bed reduction reactor and a radio-frequency-driven ceramic gas heater are used to improve thermal efficiency.
- Other Subject(s):
- NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS) Collection.
- Document ID: 20080008755.
- No Copyright.
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