October 7, 2022
New technology can turn Martian air into rocket fuel

New technology can turn Martian air into rocket fuel

While it’s an essential part of Earth’s life cycles, it’s true that carbon dioxide has become something of a climate villain for us. (Credit: Reproduction/Pexels)

Chances of a manned flight to Mars have made headlines lately. Both China and the United States have already announced their plans to send astronauts to the planet. However, not all flights to our red neighbor need to carry passengers. In fact, we already know the region of Mars up close. Thanks to robots and sensors, we have relevant information about the atmosphere and soil there. In any case, between colonization plans and increasingly fascinating images of the planet, the truth is that Mars is increasingly present in our scientific efforts.

However, the importance of Mars exploration is not limited to thinking about our plans for the future. Science aims to generate knowledge through fact-based methods. Thus, it also makes possible, even by unexpected means, new forms of technology. Thus, to facilitate human existence, or even meet the historical demands of each period. Among the advances in space exploration in the 20th century came technologies such as GPS and satellite data transmission. Likewise, advances in the twenty-first century could bring important technologies and equipment to address pressing challenges such as global warming.

+ Mars suffered from violent volcanic eruptions that changed the climate

The atmospheres of Earth and Mars are completely different. The atmosphere of Mars is weak and rarefied compared to our atmosphere. Our dry air, without water vapor, consists primarily of nitrogen and oxygen. On Mars, air is 95% carbon dioxide (CO2), with methane, argon, and traces of water vapor and other gases also present. For comparison, although it is essential to life here, carbon dioxide makes up 0.03% of the air.

Although it is an essential part of Earth’s life cycles, it is true that carbon dioxide, along with other greenhouse gases, has become something of a climate villain for us. This makes the difference in gas ratio on Earth and Mars all the more impressive. For this reason, it was proposed to use it as a tool to “rehabilitate” the Red Planet. That is, make it habitable. Above all, by increasing cold temperatures and making the atmosphere denser. Studies that have already been conducted have not yielded a positive result, however. This shows how not the same criteria are used to understand the impact of global warming and the presence of carbon dioxide on Earth and Mars.

Carbon dioxide was above all essential to support the lives of astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS). Prior to this, oxygen (H2O) was removed from water by electrolysis. Therefore, the hydrogen was eliminated. Carbon dioxide has also been eliminated from human exhalation. So it was necessary to transport a large amount of water to the station. It also needed to be replaced frequently. Anyway, it’s easy to see how this can be a problem for long assignments. Herein lies the significance of Sabatier’s reaction.

Space agencies use the Sabatier reaction in the EEI to recover the byproducts of the oxygen process. Also, to save water. Carbon dioxide reacts with hydrogen to generate H2O and methane (CH4). Thus the need to transport water to the plant is reduced, in addition to consuming part of the carbon dioxide. On the other hand, methane is dumped into space. However, recent work gives another purpose to this gas. We have already seen that carbon dioxide is the dominant gas on Mars. However, what if the methane produced in this process could be used as fuel for space missions?

The idea isn’t actually new, but the technology used is. The considered carbon dioxide conversion reaction requires copper as a catalyst. However, process productivity is not always perfect. By using state-of-the-art devices called “quantum dots,” which are microscopic graphene semiconductors, the researchers were able to dramatically improve the interaction. In other words, the new technology offers the possibility to significantly reduce the need for fuel for trips to Mars. Moreover, it may be of great importance in the fight against global warming. This is because it will be a form of clean fuel and power generation, with the advantage of capturing carbon dioxide in the process. The work has been published in the journal Nature Communications.

Although it is an essential part of Earth’s life cycles, it is true that carbon dioxide, along with other greenhouse gases, has become something of a climate villain for us. This makes the difference in gas ratio on Earth and Mars all the more impressive. For this reason, it was proposed to use it as a tool to “rehabilitate” the Red Planet. That is, make it habitable. Above all, by increasing cold temperatures and making the atmosphere denser. Studies that have already been conducted have not yielded a positive result, however. This shows how not the same criteria are used to understand the impact of global warming and the presence of carbon dioxide on Earth and Mars.

Carbon dioxide was above all essential to support the lives of astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS). Prior to this, oxygen (H2O) was removed from water by electrolysis. Therefore, the hydrogen was eliminated. Carbon dioxide has also been eliminated from human exhalation. So it was necessary to transport a large amount of water to the station. It also needed to be replaced frequently. Anyway, it’s easy to see how this can be a problem for long assignments. Herein lies the significance of Sabatier’s reaction.

Space agencies use the Sabatier reaction in the EEI to recover the byproducts of the oxygen process. Also, to save water. Carbon dioxide reacts with hydrogen to generate H2O and methane (CH4). Thus the need to transport water to the plant is reduced, in addition to consuming part of the carbon dioxide. On the other hand, methane is dumped into space. However, recent work gives another purpose to this gas. We have already seen that carbon dioxide is the dominant gas on Mars. However, what if the methane produced in this process could be used as fuel for space missions?

The idea isn’t actually new, but the technology used is. The considered carbon dioxide conversion reaction requires copper as a catalyst. However, process productivity is not always perfect. By using state-of-the-art devices called “quantum dots,” which are microscopic graphene semiconductors, the researchers were able to dramatically improve the interaction. In other words, the new technology offers the possibility to significantly reduce the need for fuel for trips to Mars. Moreover, it may be of great importance in the fight against global warming. This is because it will be a form of clean fuel and power generation, with the advantage of capturing carbon dioxide in the process. The work has been published in the journal Nature Communications.

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