Regenerative Solid Oxide Stack for Lunar and Mars Oxygen Production and Surface Energy Storage
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In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) is critical for expanding robotic and human extraterrestrial exploration beyond low earth orbit where re-supply options are nonexistent. Local resources need to be converted to useful products (e.g., life consumables and propellants) to reduce cost and risk and support human presence. Regenerative fuel cell systems offer increased storage capacity and can be used in future NASA missions to the moon, near-Earth asteroids, and Mars. Precision Combustion, Inc. (PCI), with support from NASA, is developing a regenerative solid oxide stack system approach that combines novel structural elements. Our approach allows direct internal reforming of regolith off-gases (e.g., methane and high hydrocarbons) within a solid oxide stack as well as efficient H2O/CO2 electrolysis for O2 production, overcoming shortcomings of traditional approaches. The resulting enhanced heat transfer design offers the potential for light-weight and simple stack design with high efficiency and durability. In this paper, we will present performance metrics including results from concept validation and performance testing at various operating conditions.