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Oxygen extraction from lunar soil by fluorinationMining and processing of lunar material could possibly lead to more cost-efficient scenarios for permanent presence of man in space and on the Moon. Production of oxygen for use as propellant seems especially important. Different candidate processes for oxygen-extraction from lunar soil were proposed, of which the reduction of ilmenite by hydrogen was studied most. This process, however, needs the concentration of ilmenite from lunar regolith to a large extent and releases oxygen only with low efficiency. Another possibility - the fluorination method - which works with lunar bulk material as feedstock is discussed. Liberation of oxygen from silicate or oxide materials by fluorination methods has been applied in geoscience since the early sixties. The fact that even at moderate temperatures 98 to 100 percent yields can be attained, suggests that fluorination of lunar regolith could be an effective way of propellant production. Lunar soil contains about 50 percent oxygen by weight which is gained nearly completely through this process as O2 gas. The second-most element Si is liberated as gaseous SiF4. It could be used for production of Si-metal and fluorine-recycling. All other main elements of lunar soil will be converted into solid fluorides which also can be used for metal-production and fluorine-recycling. Preliminary results of small scale experiments with different materials are discussed, giving information on specific oxygen-yields and amounts of by-products as functions of temperature. These experiments were performed with an already existing fluorine extraction and collection device at the University of Bonn, normally used for determination of oxygen-isotopic abundances. Optimum conditions, especially concerning energy consumption, are investigated. Extrapolation of the experimental results to large industrial-type plants on the Moon is tried and seems to be promising at first sight. The recycling of the fluorine is, however, crucial for the process. It might be achieved by means of electrolysis. This needs further investigation. The technical problem of transport and handling of the toxic and corrosive fluorine seems to be solvable and could be done by inert storage vessels.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Legacy CDMS
Document Type
Conference Paper
Seboldt, W.
(Dabcovich and Co., Inc., Bedford MA., United States)
Lingner, S.
(Dabcovich and Co., Inc., Bedford MA., United States)
Hoernes, S.
(Bonn Univ. (Germany F.R.)., United States)
Grimmeisen, W.
(Bonn Univ. Germany, F.R. , 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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