Moonshine

The technologists had always expected a small amount of combined water and various gases. To find that distillation of low melting point metals was also happening was pure serendipity.

The boffins had cobbled up a solar furnace on the Schmidt Cassergrain system, a huge sun facing parabola with a facing inverted parabola at the focal point. The resulting heat chamber behind the centre of the main dish, could melt anything.

The air tight tube with the screw feed pushing the crushed ore into the heat chamber, had to be matched to the heat supply. The rising vapours cooling in the outlet tubing in the shadow, condensed into separating boxes to fall into funnels and storage bins for later processing.

A little water vapour was always possible and some carbon dioxide, but the nitrated, sodium salts and phosphates were cause for celebration. A chance longer exhaust cooling tube was harvesting lithium, magnesium, aluminium and calcium and more. The profit now possible from the furnace looked to be in the two to three hundred percent.

Overnight was mining, crushing and stock piling time, ready for a day of smelting. The stock pile volume matched to the separated volume, the bins in position to be filled and stacked. A half hour before furnace start all personel were assembled to kit up in the protective clothing, never forgetting the head gear. Ten minutes before sun rise with every one outside, the communications were tested. This included the small furnace crew for steam and power generation, then the tiny furnace crew for the experimental power supply.

In such an isolated area, safety out weighed secrecy as a small mistake or equipment failure could cascade into trouble easily. The testing of the hyper-steam chamber with power in-feed interested everyone. A high temperature transistor in effect and a possible power supply.

Anybody not needed in the direct sun light was moving into the area which would be in the shade. In this climate the less chances you took with the sun the better. The head helmets were fluted with full spectrum visors, but care was always needed on the job.Five minutes before sun rise, all were in position, to swing the huge parabola into alignment, with the single heat source. Getting the huge parabola into position, as it looked so frail, was always interesting.

Sun rise and the operators panel was already at temperature. The feed was started, at the slowest speed. The temperature held steady and the days work had begun. This day was to be fourteen earth days long and the mine in the mmon was in production. The four hectare mirror was delivering pure separated metals with extras, it was all coming up roses.