The Electrolysis of Martian Brines: Production of Hydrogen Fuel and Life Support Oxygen on the Red Planet

Ort : Bremen Human Space Exploration Seminar - online
Beginn : 02. November 2022, 13:30 Uhr
Ende : 02. November 2022, 15:00 Uhr
Bremen Human Space Exploration Seminar
Guest: Vijay K. Ramani

Roma B. & Raymond H. Wittcoff Distinguished University Professor Vice Provost for Graduate Education, Washington University in St. Louis, USA

There is increasing interest from NASA and others on manned missions to Mars, which raises the question of in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) to minimize what needs to be carried on board the spacecraft at launch. I will share a novel approach to fuel and oxygen generation on the Martian surface through brine electrolysis. Our group has demonstrated an approach to produce ultra-pure H2 and O2 from liquid-phase Martian regolithic brine at ca. -36 ⁰C. Utilizing a Pb2Ru2O7-δ pyrochlore O2-evolution electrocatalyst and a Pt/C H2-evolution electrocatalyst, we demonstrate a brine electrolyzer with >25x the O2 production rate of the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE) from NASA’s Mars 2020 mission for the same input power under Martian terrestrial conditions. Given the Phoenix lander’s observation of an active water cycle on Mars and the extensive presence of perchlorate salts that depress water’s freezing point to ca. -60 ⁰C, our approach provides a unique pathway to life-support and fuel production for future human missions to Mars.

Vijay K. Ramani is the Vice Provost for Graduate Education and International Affairs at Washington University in St. Louis (WUSTL). He concurrently holds the Roma B. and Raymond H. Wittcoff Distinguished University Professorship and serves as a Professor in the Department of Energy, Environmental and Chemical Engineering at WUSTL. His research interests lie at the confluence of electrochemical engineering, materials science, and renewable energy technologies, with a focus on electrochemical energy conversion and storage (low temperature fuel cells, electrolyzers and redox-flow batteries).


Bremen Human Space Exploration Seminar

The seminar takes ususally place every third Wednesday of the month at 13:30 CET/CEST online via zoom and consists of a 40-minute talk followed by a 40-minute discussion.

The zoom link for the meeting will be send via email to all registered members of the space-exploration mailing list. You can register here.

Vijay K. Ramani