Ilmenite (FeTiO3, also known as Iron titanate, or iron titanium oxide) is a naturally occurring titanium and iron ore. It is named for the location where it was discovered, Ilmen Lake in the Ural Mountains of Russia. Ilmenite is currently the most important ore of Titanium for terrestrial production. It is reasonably abundant on Luna, the greatest concentrations being found in the lunar maria.
Lunar Extraction and Use
(see also: Ilmenite Reduction)
Ilmenite is weakly magnetic, and can be removed from lunar regolith by magnetic beneficiation. This property allows for the relatively easy extraction of Ilmenite, even from areas where it is not as abundant.
Ilmenite has been proposed as a feedstock for lunar titanium and iron production. In addition, the iron oxides present in the Ilmenite require the least energy to reduce of any oxide found on Luna. Because of this property, together with the ease of extraction from lunar sources, ilmenite has been proposed as a prime material for production of lunar oxygen.
Crystallized Ilmenite is a semiconductor with a bandgap of 2.54 volts. Ilmenite photovoltaic cells may have a greater conversion efficiency than silicon or gallium arsenide in unfiltered solar radiation. Also, they should withstand higher temperature with less radiation damage. When THE MOON, Resources, Future Development, and Settlement by Schrunk et al. was published in 2008, the development of the photovoltaic properties of ilmenite was not far enough along to be certain of its usefulness in solar cells. In the sunlight filtered by Earth's atmosphere, silicon cells would have an advantage in efficiency.
- Anthony, J. Colozza, Wayne A. Wong, Evaluation of a Stirling Solar Dynamic System for Lunar Oxygen Production, NASA/TM -- 2006-214360
- Amethyst Galleries' Mineral Gallery
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ilmenite Wikipedia article on Ilmenite
- e-Rocks.com Ilmenite Mineral Data
- Mindat.org Ilmenite mineral information and data
- Space Resource News Vol. 4 No. 6, Lunar Ilmenite for Solar Cells
- THE MOON, Resources, Future Development, and Settlement; David Schrunk, Burton Sharpe, Bonnie Cooper, Madhu Thangavelu; (C) 2008 Praxis Publishing Ltd, Chichester, UK; p 273
- efficiency as a function of bandgap