Plasma Extraction of Oxygen from Martian Atmosphere



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45th International Conference on Environmental Systems


In support of NASA’s In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) objectives an SBIR Phase 1 effort has demonstrated conceptual feasibility of a novel Plasma Extraction of Oxygen from Martian Atmosphere (PEOMA) technology. Extraction of oxygen from the abundant carbon dioxide present on Mars (96% atmospheric composition) is an important goal in preparation for manned missions to the planet. Oxygen is not only a fundamental reactant with high specific energy chemical fuels such as hydrogen and methane, it, along with water, are clearly two of the most critical resources for life support. Using microwave plasma techniques to decompose CO2 into CO and 1⁄2O2, coupled with subsequent O2 separation, a PEOMA robotic processor located on the Martian surface would allow oxygen to be stockpiled for later use during manned exploration near this location. This investigative work has succeeded at validating effective molecular dissociation in a carbon dioxide plasma, with no solid carbon formation. Using innovative standing wave microwave plasma reactor designs, ubiquitous 2.45 GHz microwave technology was employed to demonstrate up to 86% single pass carbon dioxide decomposition.


Bellevue, Washington
Richard R. Wheeler, Jr., UMPQUA Research Company, USA
Neal M. Hadley, UMPQUA Research Company, USA
Spencer R. Wambolt, UMPQUA Research Company, USA
John T. Holtsnider, UMPQUA Research Company, USA
Ross Dewberry, UMPQUA Research Company, USA
Laurel J. Karr, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, USA
The 45th International Conference on Environmental Systems was held in Bellevue, Washington, USA on 12 July 2015 through 16 July 2015.