Comparison of Direct Solar Energy to Resistance Heating for Carbothermal Reduction of Regolith

Anthony Muscatello, Robert Gustafson
2011 49th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting including the New Horizons Forum and Aerospace Exposition   unpublished
A comparison of two methods of delivering thermal energy to regolith for the carbo thermal reduction process has been performed. The comparison concludes that electrical resistance heating is superior to direct solar energy via solar concentrators for the following reasons: (1) the resistance heating method can process -12 times as much regolith using the same amount of thermal energy as the direct solar energy method because of superior thermal insulation; (2) the resistance heating method is
more » ... ore adaptable to nearerterm robotic exploration precursor missions because it does not require a solar concentrator system; (3) crucible-based methods are more easily adapted to separation of iron metal and glass by-products than direct solar energy because the melt can be poured directly after processing instead of being remelted; and (4) even with projected improvements in the mass of solar concentrators, projected photovoitaic system masses are expected to be even lower.
doi:10.2514/6.2011-699 fatcat:pajxpr64qbbm7fuexlhxd2gdoy