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Mechanisms of ilmenite reduction and their impact on the design of effective reactor systemsOne of the first activities at a lunar base could be oxygen recovery from ilmenite (FeTiO3). Oxygen produced from lunar soils could be used to fuel transportation vehicles operating in near-earth space. The first step in developing a suitable reactor system for lunar operation is to determine the mechanisms and rates of oxygen removal from ilmenite. In-situ gravimetric measurements and microscopic examinations were used to determine the hydrogen reduction mechanisms of synthetic ilmenite discs between 823 to 1353 K. A shrinking core reaction model, modified to account for the growth of an iron film on the surface of discs, was capable of predicting experimentally observed conversion-time relationships. The observed reduction mechanism, kinetic rates, and associated activation energy established a base line from which comparisons could be made to improve oxygen yield and removal rates. One proposed technique to improve the rate and extent of oxygen removal was to preoxidize ilmenite. Preoxidation is commonly used during the reduction of ilmenite ores in the iron industry and has been employed for many years to lower operating temperatures and increase reduction rates. This technology could prove beneficial for oxygen production facilities on the Moon as less massive reactor vessels and/or less energy could be associated with a process including preoxidation. X ray diffraction and energy dispersive spectroscopy were utilized to follow the progression of ilmenite oxidation at 1123 and 1140 K and the reduction of pseudobrookite (Fe2TiO5) at 873 and 973 K. Structures formed during the progress of oxidation were related to the system's phase diagrams. Results indicated that after initially producing ilmenite-hematite solutions and rutile (TiO2), pseudobrookite was the end product of oxidation at all temperatures examined (1049 to 1273 K). Initial results from the reduction of pseudobrookite indicate a series of phases are produced including ferropseudobrookite (FeTi2O5), ulvospinel (Fe2TiO4), and ilmenite. Rates of pseudobrookite reduction were typically 50 to 200 times that of ilmenite.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Legacy CDMS
Document Type
Conference Paper
Briggs, R. A.
(Worcester Polytechnic Inst. MA, United States)
Sacco, A.
(Worcester Polytechnic Inst. MA, United States)
Date Acquired
September 6, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1991
Publication Information
Publication: Arizona Univ., Resources of Near-Earth Space: Abstracts
Subject Category
Lunar And Planetary Exploration
Accession Number
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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