Human exploration of Mars, as well as unmanned sample return missions from Mars can benefit greatly from the use of propellants and life-support consumables produced from the resources available on Mars
Mars’ CO2 rich atmosphere offers an abundant staring material on which to synthesize needed resources such as oxygen, carbon monoxide, and methane. The preferred method of oxygen generation uses a solid oxide electrolyzer (SOE) to produce oxygen in one stream and a mixture of carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide as the waste gases.
TDA Research proposes to develop a highly efficient system for separation and re-circulation of the unreacted CO2 from the SOE processes. TDA’s system uses a novel adsorbent that removes the unreacted CO2 at temperatures > 650°C, without any need for cooling it down. The specific objective of the Phase I work is to develop a regenerable high temperature CO2 sorbent that regenerates via thermal swing or pressure (vacuum) swing and demonstrate the ejector concept and thermal swing concept for gas recirculation in a breadboard system.
In the ISRU system not all CO2 that is processed is getting utilized in the reverse water gas shift or the Solid oxide electrolysis step. Therefore, NASA is interested in technologies that allow the unreacted CO2 from the RWGS (reverse water gas shift) and/or SOE (solid oxide electrolysis) reactors operating at high temperatures (>650°C), to be separated and recirculated back to the process inlet and the proposed sorbents must be able to take up CO2 at these gas temperatures.
Potential non-NASA application includes pre-combustion CO2 capture from Integrated gasification combined cycle power plants and from gasification systems. TDA’s CO2 removal system would find application in reducing greenhouse gases from power plants and in hydrogen manufacture.