Experimental investigation of an optimised tribocharger design for space resource utilisation


Rasera J.N., Cilliers J.J., Lamamy J.A., Hadler K.


Planetary and Space Science, vol. 228, art. no. 105651, 2023


Triboelectric charging and free-fall separation are attractive technologies for lunar mineral beneficiation. Here, an optimised tribocharger design was built and evaluated under terrestrial conditions. The charging behaviour of pure silica and ilmenite were tested using the optimised design, as were mixtures of silica and ilmenite, and samples of lunar regolith simulant JSC-1. Pure silica and ilmenite acquired negative and positive charge, respectively, through contact with the tribocharger. The tribocharger affected significantly the movement of the pure minerals in the electrostatic field. Results from the binary mixtures indicate that ilmenite recovery is independent of initial ilmenite concentration, and can be predicted from the mass distribution of pure ilmenite samples. For JSC-1, the tribocharger was found to increase the density of the material in certain collectors, indicating an upgrading of denser constituents. The optimised tribocharger design has a significant effect on the charging and separation performance.



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