I would like to know if there is a possibility to decompose plagioclase to obtain oxygen gas to be used in a combustion reaction?

I know that oxygen represents $47\%$ of the weight of 1 mole of plagioclase (albite $\ce{NaAlSi3O8}$ – anorthite $\ce{CaAl2Si2O8}$), which equals to $\pu{130 g}$ out of $\pu{277 g}$, so it will be very nice if I could decompose plagioclase and obtain oxygen gas, but I don't know if that is possible or not?

  • $\begingroup$ Do you have any reason for thinking this is a possibility? If not, you might as well ask the same question about anything with oxygen in it. Oxygen makes up a significant portion of glass, but that doesn't mean it's going to be easy to get to elemental oxygen. Have you heard of this material being used to form molecular oxygen? $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 4:46
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Why, it is possible all right, but would require quite a lot of other reagents, and energy too. It would be about as economically feasible as buying new iPhones to pluck out the glass and throw away the rest, instead of buying a new window pane. Even if you have these reagents and energy, it would be better to put plagioclase aside and get the oxygen from elsewhere. Unless you are stranded on some desolate remote planet, that is. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 7:41
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, it is possible, and NASA is contemplating extracting oxygen from local resources on the moon: books.google.com/…, science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2006/… and science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2006/…. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 18:50
  • $\begingroup$ I would try with a solar furnace. $\endgroup$
    – julien
    Commented Apr 16, 2016 at 16:56

1 Answer 1


Yes, I collect oxygen isotope data from plagioclase using the laser flourination method. To liberate the oxygen from the plagioclase, crystals are reacted with purified $\ce{BrF5}$. Then the plagioclase is hit with a $\ce{CO2}$ laser. Gasses are sent through a couple of cryogenic (liquid nitrogen) traps to filter, and then through a mercury diffusion pump to remove that nasty flourine.

  • $\begingroup$ That's cool (pun intended)! Not exactly what OP would hope, I guess, but still. $\endgroup$
    – Mithoron
    Commented Jun 8, 2017 at 22:18

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.