A recent blog post published on the official website of the University of California, Irvine (UCI) stated that researchers have discovered a new way to convert methane into rocket fuel on Mars-adding to future astronauts’ missions to the “red planet” A vital flexibility.
Related: Life on Mars: Scientists are slightly closer to the mystery of methane on Mars
Scientists have created a new way to convert methane into rocket fuel on Mars
SpaceX’s Elon Musk and other engineers conducted theoretical research on this method while studying a method to combine water in the ice on Mars with carbon dioxide to obtain enough carbon and hydrogen for methane production.
After astronauts arrive on Mars, they may use this method to convert local red planet materials such as carbon dioxide and ice into rocket fuel and are ready to send humans back to Earth.
Although it is only a “proof of concept”
Simplify the two-step process into one
To design a new method, the research team turned to an existing two-step method that has been proven on the International Space Station (ISS) to convert water into breathable oxygen-and is working to reduce it to one step. The monoatomic zinc catalyst makes it a reality.
Xin said in the statement: “Zinc is fundamentally a good catalyst.” “It has time, selectivity and portability-a big advantage of space travel.”
Xin said that while simplifying the two-step process into one process, the researchers created a more portable and compact method that can be transported and used on the “red planet” after being stripped.
The new process must be consistent with the future advancement technology
In the new method, atomically dispersed zinc acts to catalyze the same reaction, generating methane from carbon dioxide. Through a special catalyst, the reaction “effectively converts carbon dioxide into methane,” Xin added.
Modern vehicles usually do not use methane-based rocket fuel, which means that this new process needs to be compatible with future propulsion technologies.
SpaceX, Blue Origin is already developing methane-based rocket fuel
However, methane fuel has many advantages over liquid hydrogen, the fuel of choice for Boeing and Lockheed. For example, liquid hydrogen fuel will leave carbon residues on rocket engines, which must be removed before use. On Mars, it is not always easy to get out of the well-known front door to remove the debris.
However, some companies are already supporting this new method and are working to develop methane-based rocket fuel. SpaceX’s Starship, Firefly Alpha, and Blue Origin’s BE-4 Raptor engines have all turned their attention to methane-based rocket fuel, to name a few.