Development of Highly Efficient Mars ISRU CO2 Recovery System



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49th International Conference on Environmental Systems


Human exploration of Mars and unmanned sample return missions can benefit greatly from the resources available on Mars. The first major step of any Mars in-situ propellant production system is the acquisition of carbon dioxide and its compression from a total pressure of around 5 torr to a reasonable storage and processing pressure in the 100 to 200 kPa range. This compression ratio of ~150 (from 5.0 to 760 torr) can be achieved by common vacuum pump technology, however, operating such devices in the Mars environment is difficult and unreliable due to the limited lifetime of rapidly moving parts, temperature extremes, frequent starts and stops, and dust. The power requirement, in the form of electricity, is also prohibitive unless the spacecraft has nuclear power.

TDA Research Inc. is developing a compact, lightweight, advanced sorbent-based compressor to recover high-pressure, high purity CO2 from the Martian atmosphere. The system eliminates the need for a mechanical pump, increasing the reliability with relatively low power consumption. TDA’s system uses a new, high capacity sorbent that selectively adsorbs CO2 at 5 torr and regenerates by temperature swing, producing a continuous, high purity CO2 flow at pressure (> 760 torr).

We have successfully completed bench-scale proof-of-concept demonstrations, elevating the TRL to 3. In a current SBIR Phase II project, we are further optimizing the sorbent and scaling-up its production to integrate the sorbent with a rapid (relatively fast) thermal swing adsorption/desorption cycling system. Test results from the SBIR project will be presented at the meeting.


Gokhan Alptekin, TDA Research, Inc., USA
Ambalavanan Jayaraman, TDA Research, Inc., USA
Trevor Haanstad, TDA Research, Inc., USA
Sarah Devoss, TDA Research, Inc., USA
ICES308: Advanced Technologies for In-Situ Resource Utilization
The 49th International Conference on Environmental Systems was held in Boston, Massachusetts, USA on 07 July 2019 through 11 July 2019.


Mars CO2 recovery, Solid-state compressor, Rapid thermal swing