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Assessment of the technological viability of photoelectrochemical devices for oxygen and fuel production on Moon and Mars

Byron Ross, Sophia Haussener, Katharina Brinkert 

Nature communications  14 (2023), 3141


Human deep space exploration is presented with multiple challenges, such as the reliable, efficient and sustainable operation of life support systems. The production and recycling of oxygen, carbon dioxide (CO2) and fuels are hereby key, as a resource resupply will not be possible. Photoelectrochemical (PEC) devices are investigated for the light-assisted production of hydrogen and carbon-based fuels from CO2 within the green energy transition on Earth. Their monolithic design and the sole reliance on solar energy makes them attractive for applications in space. Here, we establish the framework to evaluate PEC device performances on Moon and Mars. We present a refined Martian solar irradiance spectrum and establish the thermodynamic and realistic efficiency limits of solar-driven lunar water-splitting and Martian carbon dioxide reduction (CO2R) devices. Finally, we discuss the technological viability of PEC devices in space by assessing the performance combined with solar concentrator devices and explore their fabrication via in-situ resource utilization.

© The Author(s) 2023 licensed under CC BY 4.0

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