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Oxygen and iron production by electrolytic smelting of lunar soilWork during the past year involved two aspects: (1) electrolysis experiments on a larger scale than done before, and (2) collaboration with Carbotek Inc. on design for a lunar magma electrolysis cell. It was demonstrated previously that oxygen can be produced by direct electrolysis of silicate melts. Previous experiments using 50-100 mg of melt have succeeded in measuring melt resistivities, oxygen production efficiencies, and have identified the character of metal products. A series of experiments using 1-8 grams of silicate melt, done in alumina and spinel containers sufficiently large that surface tension effects between the melt and the wall are expected to have minor effect on the behavior of the melt in the region of the electrodes were completed. The purpose of these experiments was to demonstrate the durability of the electrode and container materials, demonstrate the energy efficiency of the electrolysis process, further characterize the nature of the expected metal and spinel products, measure the efficiency of oxygen production and compare to that predicted on the basis of the smaller-scale experiments, and identify any unexpected benefits or problems of the process. Four experimental designs were employed. Detailed results of these experiments are given in the appendix ('Summary of scaling-up experiments'); a general report of the results is given in terms of implications of the experiments on container materials, cathode materials, anode materials, bubble formation and frothing of the melt, cell potential, anode-cathode distance, oxygen efficiency, and energy efficiency.
Document ID
Document Type
Colson, R. O. (Washington Univ. Saint Louis, MO, United States)
Haskin, L. A. (Washington Univ. Saint Louis, MO, United States)
Date Acquired
September 6, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1992
Publication Information
Publication: Arizona Univ., 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