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Solar heating of common lunar minerals for the production of oxygenThe purpose of this work was to demonstrate the feasibility of vapor-phase reduction (pyrolysis) of lunar materials to produce oxygen. Solar furnace experiments were conducted on two common lunar minerals, ilmenite and anorthite. Thermodynamic equilibrium calculations predicted that ilmenite should show a larger pressure increase than anorthite under conditions of the experiments and this was confirmed by the experiments. The measured mass loss of the ilmenite sample was consistent with loss of oxygen by reduction of iron in the liquid phase; this result was also predicted from equilibrium calculations. Based on preliminary experiments and equilibrium calculations, the temperatures needed for pyrolysis are expected to be in the range of 2000 to 2500 K, giving total gas pressures of 0.01 to 1 torr. Bulk regolith can be used as a feedstock without extensive beneficiation. Further, selective condensation of metal-containing species from the gas phase may yield metallic iron and silicon as byproducts from the process.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
Senior, C. L.
(PSI Technology Co. Andover, MA, United States)
Date Acquired
August 15, 2013
Publication Date
December 1, 1991
Publication Information
Publication: British Interplanetary Society, Journal
Volume: 44
ISSN: 0007-094X
Subject Category
Inorganic And Physical Chemistry
Accession Number
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