On the Beneficiation and Comminution of Lunar Regolith

by Larry W. Mason, Planetary Sciences Lab, Denver, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

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


A major concern in the area of planning for future lunar missions and for establishing a lunar base is the selection of a chemical process for liberation of oxygen from lunar regolith (Lunar Liquid Oxygen or LLOX), and for extraction of other useful materials. The processes currently being considered all require regolith feedstock in various stages of beneficiation. This paper addresses the applicability of terrestrial based comminution (particle grinding and sizing) and beneficiation (mineral/ore separation and concentration) equipment for use in the lunar environment. Classification techniques (screening; settling, cyclonic, and pneumatic), grinding operations (tumbling, fluid energy, impact, and ultrasonic mills), and beneficiation techniques (magnetic and electrostatic) are assesed for use on the lunar surface. The question of optimal source material (rock or regolith) is also addressed.

Subject Headings: Lunar materials | Moon | Space colonies | Chemical processes | Materials processing | Space exploration | Base course | Particles

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