Author Topic: Terrestrial ISRU  (Read 2434 times)

Offline Proponent

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Terrestrial ISRU
« on: 10/19/2012 07:53 AM »
Today the Independent carries a story about a British company, Air Fuel Synthesis Ltd., producing methanol and other hydrocarbon fuels from atmospheric carbon dioxide and electrolytically-derived hydrogen.  Despite the Independent's enthusiasm, I'd be amazed if this process were commercially viable or environmentally desirable on Earth, given the amount of electricity required for electrolysis.  Nonetheless, the martian applications of the technology may be interesting (though the concentration of carbon dioxide in the martian atmosphere is only about a tenth its concentration on Earth).  Perhaps this development could lead to back-door funding for research into martian ISRU.

EDIT:  Deleted erroneous statement.  As pointed out below by lalka, the partial pressure of carbon dioxide on Mars is about ten times what it is on Earth.
« Last Edit: 10/21/2012 12:48 PM by Proponent »

Offline Space Frog

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Re: Terrestrial ISRU
« Reply #1 on: 10/19/2012 03:20 PM »
At the very least, the air-mining equipment used to suck in and continuously process large volumes of atmosphere would increase in technological readiness for large-scale atmosphere processing.  I don't think such an endeavor would break even economically but the technology is certainly worth subsidizing.  Thirty years from now it might look a lot more attractive.

Offline JohnFornaro

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Re: Terrestrial ISRU
« Reply #2 on: 10/19/2012 04:44 PM »
I always have liked the original Ford factory.  Wood, leather, rubber, coal, and steel came in one end, and cars came out of the other end of the factory.
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Terrestrial ISRU
« Reply #3 on: 10/19/2012 09:18 PM »
I know some places where the Ford factory included an on-site hydro power plant and silica mine (for the windshield glass!).
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

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Offline JohnFornaro

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Re: Terrestrial ISRU
« Reply #4 on: 10/20/2012 02:40 PM »
That is too cool.  Some aspects of the old days support my Spartacus Conjecture. Hypothesis [Edit 03-01-14  I think it's more of a conjecture than a hypothesis.  There are tests to see if the conjecture could 'graduate' to a hypothesis, but that is an OT interest of mine.]
« Last Edit: 03/01/2014 02:26 PM by JohnFornaro »
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline laika

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Re: Terrestrial ISRU
« Reply #5 on: 10/21/2012 07:32 AM »
That is too cool.  Some aspects of the old days support my Spartacus Hypothesis.

"CO2 concentration in Martian atmosphere is only 1/10 concentration on Earth"
 Isn't it the other way around?
There is about 400ppm CO2 in Earth's atmosphere, which corresponds to a partial pressure of less than 0.001 atmospheres.The pressure of the Martian atmosphere is about 0.01 atmospheres and it is nearly all CO2.

Maybe the best way to progress Mars exploration is for universities and private industry to do exactly this type of development now in parallel with the SLS.

Offline Proponent

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Re: Terrestrial ISRU
« Reply #6 on: 10/21/2012 12:45 PM »
You're right.  I must have slipped a decimal point.

Offline JohnFornaro

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Re: Terrestrial ISRU
« Reply #7 on: 10/21/2012 04:26 PM »
You're right.  I must have slipped a decimal point.

Dang, Proponent, you're good.  The casual observer would not have noticed that Laika had me channelling you!
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.