The carbothermal regolith reduction is an existing terrestrial technology used to produce high-purity silicon from silicon dioxide. The same technique can be used to extract water and oxygen on the Moon with a 3-step process:
1) Formation of carbon monoxide and hydrogen via carbothermic reduction of minerals containing metallic oxides
2) Formation of methane and water through reduction of carbon monoxide with hydrogen
3) Water electrolysis to form oxygen and hydrogen
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- Demonstrating the Solar Carbothermal Reduction of Lunar Regolith to Produce Oxygen, R.J. Gustafson, B.C. White, M.J. Fidler, A.C. Muscatello, AIAA 2010-1163, 48th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting, 4-7 January 2010, Orlando, FL.