Plasma Processing of Lunar Ilmenite to Produce Oxygen

by Paul H. Allen, Univ of Idaho, United States,
Keith A. Prisbrey, Univ of Idaho, United States,
Brent Detering, Univ of Idaho, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Engineering, Construction, and Operations in Space


In order to make a space industry economic, a reliable extraterrestrial source of oxygen must be identified for immediate use. Lunar ilmenite has recently been considered as a candidate for such a resource. Reducing ilmenite with hydrogen by conventional methods produces a synthetic rutile and water, but only recovers about 30% of the available oxygen. At high temperatures, such as those of a plasma, a much greater percent of the oxygen is dissociated from the titanium. A continuous process involving some form of plasma reduction, a solid-gas separation, electrolysis of the water formed, and recycling the process gases can then be developed.

Subject Headings: Moon | Oxygen | Lunar materials | Industries | Economic factors | Hydrogen | Temperature effects | Fabrication

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