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Innovative techniques for the production of energetic radicals for lunar processing including cold plasma processing of local planetary oresHydrogen reduction of ilmenite has been studied by a number of investigators as a potential means for recovery of oxygen from lunar soil. Interest in this process has always rested with the simplicity of the flow diagram and the utilization of established technology. Effective utilization of hydrogen in the reduction process at temperatures of 1200 C and below has always been disappointing and, as such, has led other investigators to focus attention on other systems. Effective utilization of hydrogen in the reduction of ilmenite can be significantly enhanced in the presence of a non-equilibrium hydrogen plasma. Ilmenite at solid specimen temperatures of 600 C to 970 C were reacted in a hydrogen plasma. Those experiments revealed that hydrogen utilization can be significantly enhanced. At a specimen temperature of 850 C the fraction of H2 reacted was 24 percent compared to the 7 percent theoretical limit calculated with thermodynamic theory for the same temperature. An added advantage for a hydrogen plasma involves further reduction of TiO2. Reduction of the iron oxide in ilmenite yields TiO2 and metallic iron as by products. Titanium forms a number of oxides including TiO, Ti2O3, Ti3O5 and the Magneli oxides (Ti4O7 to Ti50O99). In conventional processing of ilmenite with hydrogen it is possible to reduce TiO2 to Ti7O13 within approximately an hour, but with poor utilization of hydrogen on the order of one mole of H2 per thousand. In the cold or non-equilibrium plasma TiO2 can be rapidly reduced to Ti2O3 with hydrogen utilization exceeding 10 percent. Based on design considerations of the plasma reactor greater utilization of the hydrogen in the reduction of TiO2 is possible.
Document ID
Document Type
Bullard, D. (Arizona Univ. Tucson, AZ, United States)
Lynch, D. C. (Arizona Univ. Tucson, AZ, United States)
Date Acquired
September 6, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1992
Publication Information
Publication: NASA Space Engineering Research Center for Utilization of Local Planetary Resources
Subject Category
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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IDRelationTitle19930017485Analytic PrimaryNASA Space Engineering Research Center for utilization of local planetary resources