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Center Innovation Fund: KSC CIF

Mars Propellant Production with Ionic Liquids

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

This project seeks to develop a single vessel for carbon dioxide (CO2) capture and electrolysis for in situ Mars propellant production by eliminating several steps of CO2 processing, two cryocoolers, a high temperature reactor, a recycle pump, and a water condenser; thus greatly reducing mass, volume, and power.

Electrolysis of CO2 captured by Ionic Liquids (ILs) and H2O directly to CH4 and O2 has the potential to be much more efficient than CO2 freezing/methanation/water electrolysis by having five less process steps, ~50% less mass, and ~25% lower energy requirements. The objectives are to verify these advantages that would greatly improve in situ Mars propellant production for Mars Sample Return and human missions by reducing power, mass, and complexity through the use of a single vessel for CO2 capture and electrolysis to propellant. These steps have not been demonstrated together for Mars applications, which are quite demanding.

Electrolysis of CO2 + H2O in ionic liquids to CH4 and O2 has not been demonstrated, TRL = 2. The expected TRL at completion of the research effort is  TRL = 4.

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Project Duration

Technology Maturity (TRL)

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