"Gaseous compounds trapped within carbonaceous asteroids may prove to be important targets for prospective space miners in the near-term. Volatile release is from hydrated, hydroxylated and carbonated phases present, making such bodies attractive as feedstock for the production of H2O, CO2 and simple organic compounds. A source of these species in orbit provides an opportunity to locally produce space-craft propellant and other life-support gases through the application of In-situ Resource Utilization (ISRU).
For this study, an experimental vacuum system was modified and used to test the technical validity of radiatively heating asteroid simulants to extract contained gaseous resources while simultaneously recovering evolved products using a cryogenic trap. A furnace placed within the vacuum chamber carries the sample and provides resistive-radiative heating, temperature is applied in ramped steps and held at four plateaus for extended periods. A mass spectrometer scanning the spectrum from 1-200 atomic mass units records the composition of the residual environment as gas is produced from the simulant and retrieved as a solid icy mixture on the surface of a liquid nitrogen cooled trap. K-type thermocouples emplaced within the simulant sample mass yield information on the nature and progress of heat and mass transfer.
Results indicate that volatile production is driven by predictable endothermic reactions such as dehydration and de-hydroxylation. Material properties of bulk bodies strongly influence the pace of thermal devolatilization and cryo-trapping was found to effectively capture released species within limits"--Abstract, page iii.
Gertsch, Leslie Ss
Moats, Michael S.
Wronkiewicz, David J.
Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering
M.S. in Geological Engineering
Missouri University of Science and Technology
xii, 128 pages
© 2017 Egboche Christopher Unobe, All rights reserved.
Thesis - Open Access
Electronic OCLC #
Unobe, Egboche Christopher, "Mining asteroids for volatile resources: an experimental demonstration of extraction and recovery" (2017). Masters Theses. 7688.