Steady State Composition with Low Fe²+ Concentrations for Efficient O2 Production by Magma Electrolysis of Lunar Soils

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by Larry A. Haskin, Washington Univ, St. Louis, United States,
Russell O. Colson, Washington Univ, St. Louis, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Engineering, Construction, and Operations in Space III

Abstract: Parameters are estimated for a hypothetical, well stirred, continuous-feed electrolytic cell that converts 20% of a lunar soil feedstock to O2 gas, 26% to Fe-Si metal, 13% to spinel, and 41% to slag. Advantages of a molten Fe-Si cathode for trapping metal on reduction, a relatively conductive steady-state composition in equilibrium with spinel (a proposed container material), and close electrodes (<1 cm cathode-anode distance) are discussed. To produce 1 tonne of O2, -6 MHW of energy are required for the electrolysis and IR heating within the melt, and another -6 MHW may be introduced as waste heat through internal resistance of the electrodes. Thus, to produce 1 tonne of O2 per 24 hours, -0.5 MW of power delivered to the cell would be required.

Subject Headings: Lunar materials | Soil gas | Wells (oil and gas) | Metals (chemical) | Steady states | Parameters (statistics) | Slag | Equilibrium |

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