Researchers from Spanish technological center Tekniker are developing a system that uses sunlight to make usable fuel from astronaut wastewater. More specifically, a ‘photoelectrochemical’ system that utilizes high-efficiency catalytic materials to produce hydrocarbons, like methane as well as carbon monoxide or alcohols from atmospheric CO2 plus wastewater. During this process, the water will also detoxified and can reused, thus doubling as a recycling method. Read more for additional information.
The results of this project could provide the European Space AGency with valuable input on the production of propellant on Mars or to power remote sites like ground stations on Earth. Eventually, this method could also potentially provide input on how to decarbonize Earth’s atmosphere. This project is being supported through ESA’s Open Space Innovation Platform, which serves to develop new ideas for space.
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We aim to make the first reactor to produce space propellant on Mars using the planet’s air, which is 95% carbon dioxide. The reactor will be powered by sunlight, and astronauts’ greywater will be used to help in the production of the propellant,” said Borja Pozo from Tekniker.