Re: mining the 'pollies

Michael Lorrey (
Mon, 05 May 1997 19:38:12 -0400

Eugene Leitl wrote:
> Me, a faithful lunatic, has always been mesmerized by the
> Moon as the major future space industry location. However,
> near-Earth asteroids might prove to be much more
> interesting first target for prospection and mining.
> Heliothermics with flimsy (few um Al foil on a hyperbolic
> truss mirror) may easily reach about 6 kK in space, albeit
> requiring tracking, especially for rotating bodies (negation
> of rotation is mandatory (orelse where to with all the pesky
> oxygen?) on the middle run).
> Electrolysing (PV electricity) a molten silicate poodle,
> whether with metal or carbon (pyrographite from carbonaceous
> chondrite) will result in silicon/metal/silicate multiphase
> alloy, oxygen/carbon dioxide irreversibly escaping into space.
> Electrolysed water may yield hydrogen for reduction, metal
> and molten silicate glass material for truss rods construction
> (imagine neoariadne agents, deftly spinning glass fibre in
> space). Sputtered aluminum and iron are great material for
> mirrors, ebeam cannons are useful for deploying these.
> Inductive metallurgy is easy to do, under microgravitation
> conditions, and lots of hard vacuum.
> Producing semiconductor-grade silicon will be sure a chore
> under this circumstances. Sad thing beam writers bein a
> natural for space semiconductor production.

Excellent commentary. However, I point out one concept in asteroidal
refining that is illustrated in Jerry Pournelle and Charles Sheffield's
novel _Higher_Education_, which just came out late last year. THis uses
a large tube constructed of a carbon/carbon type matrix, possibly using
buckyfiber, surrounded by induction heaters. The asteroid is shut inside
the tube and heated up to molten level. It is then spun to provide
centrifugal separation of its components by element, which are each
drained in series from spigots on the outside.

			Michael Lorrey
------------------------------------------------------------		Inventor of the Lorrey Drive

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