Engineering Mars commercial rocket propellant production for the Big Falcon Rocket (part 2)

The RWGS itself would consist of a simple compatible metal pipe, like steel, filled with a catalyst. According to experiments done by Pioneer Astronautics in Lakewood, Colorado, the best catalyst for this reaction is silica (consisting of five percent copper by weight) and a smaller amount of nickel. In the completed chemical process, one kilogram of carbon dioxide and hydrogen give you 0.3 kilograms of water. However, a RWGS reaction can go both ways, and this catalyst produces carbon monoxide with an efficiency of 60 percent conversion of carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide at 350°C under a pressure of 150 torr. This efficiency results because this reaction has a low equilibrium constant even at temperatures of 400°C. So to “push” the reaction toward production of the desired product, the RWGS reactor must be fed with either a hydrogen-rich or a carbon dioxide-rich mixture to ensure satisfactory results.

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CO2 Recovery System Puts Bubbles into Beer

Technology used to capture carbon dioxide in the Martian atmosphere can save brewers money.

Building on work he and his companies did with Johnson Space Center’s In Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) team, Robert Zubrin has developed and commercialized technologies that could prove revolutionary in their Earth applications, such as a system that could extract millions of barrels of oil from defunct oil wells around the world, and another that can harness all the natural gas currently burned off as waste at many oil drilling rigs.

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Lunar Materials Handling System

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas

A method was developed for transfer of lunar soil into and out of process equipment. The Lunar Materials Handling System (LMHS) conveys solids to a process vessel, provides a gas-tight seal, prevents seal contamination, and minimizes wear from abrasive particles. The LMHS increases equipment life and minimizes process losses, thereby increasing overall in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) leverage. The LMHS is based on a seal arrangement by which lunar or Mars regolith can be repeatedly introduced into, and removed from, reaction chambers operating under a wide range of conditions. An integrated LMHS was demonstrated during operation in a one-cubic-meter vacuum chamber using hydrogen reduction as an ISRU process demonstration platform.

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Pioneer Astronautics recieved three Phase 1 Contract from NASA for :

  • Nitrous Oxide Micro Engines;
  • Mars Regolith Water Extractor; &
  • Regenerable Contaminant Removal System.