In Situ Recovery of Water from Dormant Comet Cores & CI Carbonaceous Chondrites

by David L. Kuck,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

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


Water and volatiles may be produced by drill holes into dormant comet cores or class CI or CM asteroids. This is modeled after in-situ mining as in the Frasch process sulfur mines of the Gulf coast, solution of uranium in Wyoming and Texas, of soda ash, potash and borates at Searles Lake, California, and solution of salt in the Gulf coast, Michigan, Ohio and New York. A simple drilling rig may be used to drill multiple holes to increase. Assume a dormant comet core of ice covered with a silicate regolith. Drill holes through the regolith may be used to extract water from the ice core or from ice filled cracks in the rock. Hot gas is injected to heat and melt ice, and blow water and/or steam from the hole. Heating to over 393°K will remove six of the seven water molecules from epsomite and melt elemental sulfur. Drill fluid and any water and/or volatiles will flow to a fractionation plant for recovery of the gas, which is compressed, heated and returned to the drill hole. Part of the water in CI carbonaceous chondritic asteroids might be produced by the same method. A temperature >573°K can drive water from hydrated phylosilicates. Dehydration shrinkage will open space in clays to permit further contact with the heat transfer gas. If they can be found, dormant comet cores should be the preferred target.

Subject Headings: Ice | Coastal processes | Field tests | Water management | Sulfur | Gulfs | Coastal environment | Water resources | United States | Wyoming | Texas | California | Michigan | Ohio | New York

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