Carbonyl Extraction of Lunar and Asteroidal Metals

by John S. Lewis, Univ of Arizona, United States,
Thomas D. Jones, Univ of Arizona, United States,
William H. Farrand, Univ of Arizona, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Engineering, Construction, and Operations in Space


The century-old Mond process for carbonyl extraction of metals from ore shows great promise as an efficient, low energy scheme for producing high-purity Fe, Ni, Cr, Mn, and Co from lunar or asteroidal feedstocks. Scenarios for winning oxygen from the lunar regolith can be enhanced by carbonyl processing of the metallic alloy by-products of such operations. The native metal content of asteroidal regoliths is even more suitable to carbonyl processing. High-purity, corrosion resistant Fe and Ni can be extracted from asteroidal feedstocks along with a Co-rich residue containing 0.5% platinum-group metals. The resulting gaseous metal carbonyls can produce a variety of end products using efficient vaporforming techniques.

Subject Headings: Asteroids, comets, and meteoroids | Moon | Chemical processes | Space exploration | Regolith | Natural resources | Materials processing

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