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Utilization of lunar ilmenite: Basalt or regolith?A critical discussion of whether lunar basalt or regolith should be used as a resource for mineral processing schemes on the lunar surface, with pros and cons for each argument is presented. A literature review has shown that the majority of authors feel that mining the lunar basalt, crushing it, and then processing to remove the desired minerals, would be the route to take. The argument that this method would not be a sound mineral processing practice is presented. Mining and crushing are difficult propositions even on Earth; to attempt such processes in the hostile lunar environment would be a phenomenal task. It would be better to start with a simpler scheme, such as processing the regolith, which can be adapted to the multitude of unknowns facing the first lunar production plant. If, however, the lunar mining trend is followed, it must be kept in mind that mining and processing technology which is radically different from what is currently available and used on Earth will have to be developed. Podnieks and Roepke (1987) and Lindroth and Podnieks (1987) have summarized the new technology that may be applicable, but this technology is very similar to the current, 99 percent inefficient technology used on Earth. One such possible technique is sodium vapor fragmentation of basalt. Initial testwork was conducted at Michigan Technological University on terrestrial basalt with extremely promising results, though much time and effort will be needed to fully develop this process.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Legacy CDMS
Document Type
Conference Paper
Kawatra, S. K.
(Michigan Technological Univ. Houghton, MI, United States)
Delao, K. L.
(Michigan Technological Univ. Houghton, MI, 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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