Analysis of lunar oxygen production methods under varying lunar conditions
Author(s)Neubert, Joshua, 1981-
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences.
Richard P. Binzel.
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This research thesis compares the major, most feasible methods of providing the needed amounts of oxygen on the lunar surface for a future human mission. Past studies are combined to provide a comprehensive look at each process and their processing requirements (for example, the mass a processing plant requires, the speed at which the oxygen could be produced, and the cost of setting up such a processing system). There are three methods of in-situ oxygen production that will be researched: hydrothermal reduction, carbothermal reduction, and water/ice electrolysis. Transportation from the Earth is also noted as a basis of comparison. These three methods were chosen because they are the three simplest, most studied methods of regolith reduction to produce oxygen. There have been several studies done on these methods from which I base my research. Pure electrolysis is being studied because of the possibility of water ice at the lunar poles. All three processes are compared and analyzed under various lunar constraints. These constraints limit the feedstock of the system at different locations on the lunar surface. It is found that the water ice concentrations estimated at the north-pole are significantly above that needed to make ice electrolysis the most beneficial method of extraction. However, in mid-latitudes and the south-pole such a definite conclusion is not yet seen. In the south polar regions if the water ice concentration is in the lower half of the bound estimated then ice electrolysis is not the most beneficial, yet if it is in the upper half it will be at least more beneficial than the hydrothermal process, if not the most beneficial. More research must be conducted on the carbothermal system to make definite analysis quantitatively conclusive.
Thesis: S.B., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, 2003.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis. Page 36 missing from original thesis.Includes bibliographical references (page 37).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences.