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SBIR/STTR

Advanced Carbothermal Electric Reactor, Phase II

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

Advanced Carbothermal Electric Reactor, Phase II
The overall objective of the Phase 1 effort was to demonstrate the technical feasibility of the Advanced Carbothermal Electric (ACE) Reactor concept. Unlike state-of-the-art carbothermal reactors that use concentrated solar energy and/or laser energy to heat the regolith, the ACE Reactor uses an innovative method to electrically heat the regolith to temperatures over 1800ºC within a thermally insulted environment, either with or without a crucible. Commercial high-temperature heating elements made from molybdenum disilicide (MoSi2) are designed to only operate in oxidizing atmospheres where a protective layer of silicon dioxide (SiO2) will form. In Phase 1, the ACE reactor used MoSi2 heating elements with a protective coating to allow them to operate in any type of environment (oxidizing, reducing, or vacuum). The ACE Reactor concept eliminates the problems encountered with traditional carbothermal hot-wall reactors and offers significant advantages over current carbothermal reactor approaches. By eliminating the need for a concentrated solar energy system, the ACE reactor offers a significantly lowers system mass and removes the need to keep optical surfaces clean. In addition to efficiently producing oxygen, the ACE reactor separates the processed regolith into metallic iron and a silicate glass that can be formed into structural components or shielding materials. More »

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