team photo
no video icon

This video contains proprietary information and cannot be shared publicly at this time.

Team 9

Team Members

Faculty Advisor

Evron Foster
Priyamvada Kishore
Jackson Kaszas

Rainer Hebert


National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

sponsored by
sponsor logo

The Beneficiation and Reduction of Lunar Ilmenite

MSE Team 9's senior design project is encompassed around the “NASA Big Idea Challenge” for 2022-2023 where we are tasked with developing methods of utilizing the materials found in the moon's soil (regolith) to create useful items to support extended human life in the lunar atmosphere. Our project encompasses the beneficiation of ilmenite-rich lunar mare soils and the subsequent reduction of the iron in the ilmenite. Beneficiation is the process of separating useful ore materials (ilmenite in this case) from unwanted minerals (calcium, aluminum, and silicon oxides). Reduction is the chemical process of transforming a metal ion in an ionic compound into a neutrally charged metal atom. For ilmenite, this takes the form Fe2+ → Fe0. Phase 1 of this research project and demo will involve the construction, optimization, and functionality testing of a small-scale prototype of the electrostatic beneficiation device. Our team has developed a beneficiation device that utilizes electrostatic separation and exploits the electrically conductive properties of the iron within the regolith of the moon to separate it from its main composition. We achieve this separation by moving regolith particles through an electric field. In the more conductive particles (i.e., ilmenite) a separation of charges is induced, and these particles are attracted to a nearby electrode. The attraction force changes their trajectory, allowing them to be separated from nonconducting particles as they flow down the charged ramp surface. The end goal is to have a usable device that is proficient in iron separation from the unwanted other materials within the lunar regolith.