Saturday, January 12, 2008

Turning Martian Air Into Fuel? Authentic NASA Toys and Replicas
(Hat Tip: Mars News)

(Image Credit: NASA)

If humanity is every going to subdue the red planet, then they will need an inexpensive way to transport goods and personal across its crimson deserts.

Instead of looking towards the distant sun to energize our future Martian rovers, why not pull fuel from the "abundant" Martian air?

(Renewable Energy Access) Using concentrated solar energy to reverse combustion, a research team from Sandia National Laboratories is building a prototype device intended to chemically "reenergize" carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide using concentrated solar power. The carbon monoxide could then be used to make hydrogen or serve as a building block to synthesize a liquid combustible fuel, such as methanol or even gasoline, diesel and jet fuel.

The prototype device, called the Counter Rotating Ring Receiver Reactor Recuperator (CR5, for short), will break a carbon-oxygen bond in the carbon dioxide to form carbon monoxide and oxygen in two distinct steps. It is a major piece of an approach to converting carbon dioxide into fuel from sunlight.

Even though the inventors probably designed this technology to help the world to become energy independent, it may have a more practical use on the crimson world millions of kilometers away.

While future colonists may be able to power their space ports using innovative solar technology, it may be in their best interest to make their vehicles "solar independent," thereby giving them more freedom to explore the red planet.

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  1. Good stuff, love the way your blog is set up with an image behing the posts, too cool.

  2. This could be a very useful technology if it was developed to a point where it was practical. If it could be changed to work with other gases it could also be employed on other planets where solar energy would be out of the question.

    Thanks for the info,
    The Fool

  3. @ Bob: Thanks for the compliments Bob!

    @ The Fool: I agree. I am not too sure if any other world (aside from Titan) would be of much use, due to the atmospheric pressure, but it would be great if they could turn similar "frozen gases" into fuel.

  4. It sounds like what Bob Zubrin has been pushing Since his Case for Mars back in 1996. He reccommended bringing Hydrogen to combine with indigenous Martian CO2 in a Sabatier reaction to form Methane and water, and then split the water into Oxygen and Hydrogen. He also advocated using a nuclear reactor, rather than the 'concentrated solar arrays' mentioned here.


You can either visit the stars or watch them from afar.

But if you choose the former, you'll definitely get a better view.

~Darnell Clayton, 2007

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