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System Modeling of Lunar Oxygen Production Using Fission Surface Power: Mass and Power Requirements

Christopher J. Steffen, Jr., Joshua E. Freeh, Diane L. Linne, Eric W. Faykus, Christopher A. Gallo, Robert D. Green

Nuclear Technology / Volume 166 / Number 3 / June 2009 / Pages 240-251

Technical Paper / 2007 Space Nuclear Conference / Fission Reactors /

A method for estimating the mass and fission surface power requirements of a lunar oxygen production facility is introduced. The individual modeling components involve the chemical processing and cryogenic storage subsystems needed to process a beneficiated regolith stream into liquid oxygen via ilmenite reduction. The power can be supplied from one of six different fission reactor-converter systems. A baseline system analysis, capable of producing 15 tonnes/yr of oxygen, is presented. The influence of reactor-converter choice was seen to have a small but measurable impact on the system configuration and performance. Finally, the mission concept of operations can have a substantial impact upon individual component size and power requirements.

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