Author Topic: Mars Water-Based ISRU Architectures from RASCAL competition  (Read 6817 times)

Offline su27k

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Day 2: Mars Water-Based ISRU Architecture Theme from The National Institute of Aerospace (NIA)'s Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts - Academic Linkage (RASC-AL): https://rascal.nianet.org/2022-teams/

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University with Politecnico di Milano
Paper: https://rascal.nianet.org/wp-content/uploads/07-Embry-Riddle-Aeronautical-University-with-PdM-2022-RASCAL-Technical-Paper.pdf
Poster: https://rascal.nianet.org/wp-content/uploads/7-EmbryRiddle-and-PdM-2022-RASCAL-Poster.pdf

MIT
Paper: https://rascal.nianet.org/wp-content/uploads/08-MIT-2022-RASCAL-Technical-Paper.pdf
Poster: https://rascal.nianet.org/wp-content/uploads/8-Massachusetts-Institute-of-Technology-2022-RASCAL-Poster.pdf

University of Central Florida
Paper: https://rascal.nianet.org/wp-content/uploads/09-University-of-Central-Florida-2022-RASCAL-Technical-Paper.pdf
Poster: https://rascal.nianet.org/wp-content/uploads/9-University-of-Central-Florida-2022-RASCAL-Poster.pdf

University of Cincinnati
Paper: https://rascal.nianet.org/wp-content/uploads/10-University-of-Cincinnati-2022-RASCAL-Technical-Paper.pdf
Poster: https://rascal.nianet.org/wp-content/uploads/10-University-of-Cincinnati-2022-RASCAL-Poster.pdf
 
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with Honeybee Robotics
Paper: https://rascal.nianet.org/wp-content/uploads/11-University-of-Illinois-at-Urbana-Champaign-with-Honeybee-Robotics-2022-RASCAL-Technical-Paper.pdf
Poster: https://rascal.nianet.org/wp-content/uploads/11-University-of-Illinois-UC-2022-RASCAL-Poster.pdf

University of Puerto Rico – Mayagüez with Venturi Astrolab & Thin Red Line Aerospace
Paper: https://rascal.nianet.org/wp-content/uploads/12-UPRM-with-Venturi-Astrolab-and-Thin-Red-Line-2022-RASCAL-Technical-Paper.pdf
Poster: https://rascal.nianet.org/wp-content/uploads/12-University-of-Puerto-Rico-Mayaguez-2022-RASCAL-Poster.pdf

Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University
Paper: https://rascal.nianet.org/wp-content/uploads/13-Virginia-Tech-Project-Khione-2022-RASCAL-Technical-Paper.pdf
Poster: https://rascal.nianet.org/wp-content/uploads/13-Virginia-Tech-Mission-Khione-2022-RASCAL-Poster.pdf

Offline Slarty1080

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I always thought that ISRU for propellent would be impossibly difficult robotically, but reading some of these reports I'm now more inclined to think it's merely in the very difficult category. The rodwell with drill, seal, heat and pump seems the way to go. But I do wonder if the large kilopower units that they want to use will be available in a timely fashion and if anything could be made workable with  greater use of solar power?
My optimistic hope is that it will become cool to really think about things... rather than just doing reactive bullsh*t based on no knowledge (Brian Cox)

Offline zorbaward

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Hello,
I am the Team Leader of the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University with Politecnico di Milano team. The Kilopower Reactors will be used on the moon (https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-announces-artemis-concept-awards-for-nuclear-power-on-moon), so the same technology will be available for Mars in the near future. As for the solar power, the greatest risk is related to the dust accumulating on top of the panels, while it being unavailable during the cold Martian nights might complex the electrical management units. 

Offline Slarty1080

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Hello,
I am the Team Leader of the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University with Politecnico di Milano team. The Kilopower Reactors will be used on the moon (https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-announces-artemis-concept-awards-for-nuclear-power-on-moon), so the same technology will be available for Mars in the near future. As for the solar power, the greatest risk is related to the dust accumulating on top of the panels, while it being unavailable during the cold Martian nights might complex the electrical management units.
Very interesting and encouraging that a 40kW unit is being developed for the Moon. Hopefully with the work done so far on smaller scale 1kW units will help smooth the way forward. When you say "near future" roughly what time frame? Concerning the solar panels I can see that dust is an issue and some form of nuclear power was always going to be more or less essential for some operations, but I'm surprised that nobody has managed to come up with a solution for dust via some simple form of mechanical, electrical, pneumatic or other fix.
My optimistic hope is that it will become cool to really think about things... rather than just doing reactive bullsh*t based on no knowledge (Brian Cox)

Offline Twark_Main

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This reads like a bad parody of engineering.


PM: "What's the cheapest and easiest way to melt the ice in my drink, Johnson??"

Engineer: "If you have a portable nuclear reactor right here in the room, it's very easy! All I need is..."

PM: "Wait a second, how much will that cost??"

Engineer: "If you consult the org chart, you'll notice that that's not my problem. As I was saying, if we use a heat pipe..."



Not to put too fine a point on it, but the energy is the main challenge.

I don't blame the participants, of course. Usually in contests like this, their hands are shackled to some pre-ordained solution by way of overly-tight requirements.

If we're not making a nuclear ice-cube melter (:-\), then an intriguing option becomes simply laying out a black impermeable thermal absorber and catching the off-gassing water vapor. The only electricity that what's needed is to power the collection vacuum pump.

This also accomplishes purification (distillation) in the same step. Unlike most solutions, it actually supplies heat, in the form of the latent heat of condensation.


A bit Rube Goldberg to spread out 20% efficient solar panels, only to use it for process heat. Moving up the cost ladder to nukes only makes the absurdity worse.
« Last Edit: 09/05/2022 11:10 am by Twark_Main »
"The search for a universal design which suits all sites, people, and situations is obviously impossible. What is possible is well designed examples of the application of universal principles." ~~ David Holmgren

Offline JohnFornaro

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This reads like a bad parody of engineering. ... A bit Rube Goldberg to spread out 20% efficient solar panels, only to use it for process heat. Moving up the cost ladder to nukes only makes the absurdity worse.

I had the idea of increasing the energy efficiency of the electrolysis of the volatiles in the permanently shaded lunar craters by performing that electrolysis at low temperatures, using a membrane.


Seems like they've developed that membrane.

https://www.mdpi.com/2077-0375/11/11/810/pdf

This is an illustration from 2010:

The yet to be discovered or designed membrane would serve the function of collecting low pressure, low temperature water vapor in a thin film, where an electrical current would separate the hydrogen and oxygen, which would be piped to different collection containers.
It is anticipated that the membrane would be a manufactured nano-device.
« Last Edit: 09/05/2022 02:01 pm by JohnFornaro »
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline Twark_Main

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This reads like a bad parody of engineering. ... A bit Rube Goldberg to spread out 20% efficient solar panels, only to use it for process heat. Moving up the cost ladder to nukes only makes the absurdity worse.

I had the idea of increasing the energy efficiency of the electrolysis of the volatiles in the permanently shaded lunar craters by performing that electrolysis at low temperatures, using a membrane.


Seems like they've developed that membrane.

https://www.mdpi.com/2077-0375/11/11/810/pdf

This is an illustration from 2010:

The yet to be discovered or designed membrane would serve the function of collecting low pressure, low temperature water vapor in a thin film, where an electrical current would separate the hydrogen and oxygen, which would be piped to different collection containers.
It is anticipated that the membrane would be a manufactured nano-device.

Using the waste heat from electrolysis to sublimate more ice seems like a win.
« Last Edit: 09/06/2022 01:46 am by Twark_Main »
"The search for a universal design which suits all sites, people, and situations is obviously impossible. What is possible is well designed examples of the application of universal principles." ~~ David Holmgren

Offline JohnFornaro

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I had the idea of increasing the energy efficiency of the electrolysis of the volatiles in the permanently shaded lunar craters by performing that electrolysis at low temperatures, using a membrane.  Seems like they've developed that membrane.

https://www.mdpi.com/2077-0375/11/11/810/pdf

This is an illustration from 2010:

The yet to be discovered or designed membrane would serve the function of collecting low pressure, low temperature water vapor in a thin film, where an electrical current would separate the hydrogen and oxygen, which would be piped to different collection containers.
It is anticipated that the membrane would be a manufactured nano-device.

Using the waste heat from electrolysis to sublimate more ice seems like a win.
[/quote]

It sure does, dunnit?

It seems intuitively right that converting the volatile "ice" which is a solid, into its liquid components, avoids adding energy to melt the stuff, and adding more energy to liquify it back.  The big trick is the membrane, as I see it.
« Last Edit: 09/06/2022 03:56 pm by JohnFornaro »
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline LMT

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If we're not making a nuclear ice-cube melter (:-\), then an intriguing option becomes simply laying out a black impermeable thermal absorber and catching the off-gassing water vapor.

The heat pulse doesn't penetrate 2 m of dry cover.  With sheeting, pulse is similar to the Siberian sim, but with lower baseline temperature.

The method can work on sun-facing glacier slopes in summer, where a thin cover would be removed by runoff.  Where slope cover is thick, ice-melt 3 kHz RF can penetrate to initiate runoff.


Offline Lumina

I was the advisor for the MIT BART & MARGE team. I'd be happy to answer questions or relay feedback to the team.

This is the MIT News story https://news.mit.edu/2022/design-mars-propellant-production-trucks-wins-nasa-competition-0711 for an overview of their large ISRU trucks concept.

Offline LMT

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Re: Mars Water-Based ISRU Architectures from RASCAL competition
« Reply #10 on: 09/19/2022 01:32 am »
I was the advisor for the MIT BART & MARGE team. I'd be happy to answer questions or relay feedback to the team.

This is the MIT News story https://news.mit.edu/2022/design-mars-propellant-production-trucks-wins-nasa-competition-0711 for an overview of their large ISRU trucks concept.

Congratulations on winning top spot.

Could you bullet-point some design trade-offs for MARGE?  Most especially:  We've seen big jumps in the specific power of PV films recently, e.g., Nazif et al. 2021; but for propellant production mode, you went with 40 kWe fission, instead.  I was wondering if you had a "cross-over point" on a MARGE decision plot; i.e., a point where PV would win out over fission, but didn't, this time.

Refs.

Nassiri Nazif, K., Daus, A., Hong, J., Lee, N., Vaziri, S., Kumar, A., Nitta, F., Chen, M.E., Kananian, S., Islam, R. and Kim, K.H., 2021. High-specific-power flexible transition metal dichalcogenide solar cells. Nature Communications, 12(1), pp.1-9.
« Last Edit: 09/19/2022 04:40 pm by LMT »

Offline Twark_Main

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Re: Mars Water-Based ISRU Architectures from RASCAL competition
« Reply #11 on: 09/27/2022 02:37 am »
If we're not making a nuclear ice-cube melter (:-\), then an intriguing option becomes simply laying out a black impermeable thermal absorber and catching the off-gassing water vapor.

The heat pulse doesn't penetrate 2 m of dry cover.

Yes I assume the surface layer would be blasted if necessary, or scraped with a bulldozer and/or grader. Exact tradeoffs depend on local geology and equipment lifecycle costs.



Edit to nitpick: Depth of the heat pulse depends on the horizontal dimension too. If you imagine an "infinite flat plane" heater the depth of penetration would be unlimited (given enough time to reach equilibrium), so it's obviously scale-dependent.

No, real problem with insulating overburden is that it slows down water production per acre. :(

Better to scrape it clean and blast the ice full of fissures to increase the sublimation rate.
« Last Edit: 09/27/2022 02:49 am by Twark_Main »
"The search for a universal design which suits all sites, people, and situations is obviously impossible. What is possible is well designed examples of the application of universal principles." ~~ David Holmgren

Offline LMT

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Re: Mars Water-Based ISRU Architectures from RASCAL competition
« Reply #12 on: 09/27/2022 05:01 am »
Depth of the heat pulse depends on the horizontal dimension too. If you imagine an "infinite flat plane" heater the depth of penetration would be unlimited (given enough time to reach equilibrium), so it's obviously scale-dependent.

It's obviously not, because skin depth heating is a function of frequency, not arbitrary area.

Offline Twark_Main

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Re: Mars Water-Based ISRU Architectures from RASCAL competition
« Reply #13 on: 09/27/2022 05:34 am »
Depth of the heat pulse depends on the horizontal dimension too. If you imagine an "infinite flat plane" heater the depth of penetration would be unlimited (given enough time to reach equilibrium), so it's obviously scale-dependent.

It's obviously not, because skin depth heating is a function of frequency, not arbitrary area.

"Frequency" is a weird word for "following the average surface temperature on a lag."

If I have an infinite flat plane heater, then (obviously) the "average surface temperature" is whatever I want it to be. Again, as long as I have "enough time to reach equilibrium" then the lag goes away.

Note that this is a trivial and irrelevant side-issue. Like I said, in practice you still want to avoid overburden for other reasons.
« Last Edit: 09/27/2022 05:46 am by Twark_Main »
"The search for a universal design which suits all sites, people, and situations is obviously impossible. What is possible is well designed examples of the application of universal principles." ~~ David Holmgren

Offline TrevorMonty

I was the advisor for the MIT BART & MARGE team. I'd be happy to answer questions or relay feedback to the team.

This is the MIT News story https://news.mit.edu/2022/design-mars-propellant-production-trucks-wins-nasa-competition-0711 for an overview of their large ISRU trucks concept.
Here is brief summary, still waiting to see what HOMERS job will be.

BART is an end-to-end “ice-to-propellant” system that gathers water from Martian subsurface ice and extracts carbon dioxide from the red planet’s atmosphere to synthesize liquid methane and liquid oxygen bipropellant. These are then stored onboard at cryogenic temperatures until delivery directly into a rocket’s propellant tanks.

BART is accompanied by MARGE, a 40 kilowatt electric mobile nuclear reactor based on NASA’s Kilopower Reactor Using Stirling Technology project (KRUSTY, which also inspired the MIT team’s name) that generates power from nuclear fission to support long-duration operations on distant planets. For the team’s proposed mission, four tandems of BART and MARGEs will roam the region known as Arcadia Planitia at the mid-northern latitudes of Mars following a prospecting rover named LISA (Locating Ice Scouting Assistant) in search of accessible ice to use for propellant production. The entire system has 100 tons of storage capacity and can produce 156 tons per year, against a demand of 50 tons per year, and requires only three landings.


Offline LMT

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Re: Mars Water-Based ISRU Architectures from RASCAL competition
« Reply #15 on: 09/27/2022 02:35 pm »
Depth of the heat pulse depends on the horizontal dimension too. If you imagine an "infinite flat plane" heater the depth of penetration would be unlimited (given enough time to reach equilibrium), so it's obviously scale-dependent.

It's obviously not, because skin depth heating is a function of frequency, not arbitrary area.

"Frequency" is a weird word for "following the average surface temperature on a lag."

If I have an infinite flat plane heater, then (obviously) the "average surface temperature" is whatever I want it to be. Again, as long as I have "enough time to reach equilibrium" then the lag goes away.

Note that this is a trivial and irrelevant side-issue. Like I said, in practice you still want to avoid overburden for other reasons.

No, lag is unavoidable in the skin depth equation.  Understand the equation, and you see why engineers don't propose a "black absorber" for ISRU water.

Adding excavation:  Every time a little pore ice is extracted, more dry overburden is created, and extraction stops.  Then the entire surface-capture system must be removed for another round of excavation.  That's pointless labor; you'd just excavate ice instead.

Glaciers give uncommon surfaces and purity.  On glacier slopes, induced meltwater can remove overburden to expose ice repeatedly.  No excavation required, in summer anyway.

E.g., a Phlegra Montes glacier.  "X" marks the spot for a conceivable ice-hab.  Where would surface ice be melted most easily and conveniently?


Offline Twark_Main

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Re: Mars Water-Based ISRU Architectures from RASCAL competition
« Reply #16 on: 09/29/2022 05:01 am »
Depth of the heat pulse depends on the horizontal dimension too. If you imagine an "infinite flat plane" heater the depth of penetration would be unlimited (given enough time to reach equilibrium), so it's obviously scale-dependent.

It's obviously not, because skin depth heating is a function of frequency, not arbitrary area.

"Frequency" is a weird word for "following the average surface temperature on a lag."

If I have an infinite flat plane heater, then (obviously) the "average surface temperature" is whatever I want it to be. Again, as long as I have "enough time to reach equilibrium" then the lag goes away.

Note that this is a trivial and irrelevant side-issue. Like I said, in practice you still want to avoid overburden for other reasons.

No, lag is unavoidable in the skin depth equation.  Understand the equation, and you see why engineers don't propose a "black absorber" for ISRU water.


Skin depth is a straightforward application of thermal conduction. Adding fissures and "gardening" the surface allows gas exchange directly at lower depths, so a simple conduction model no longer applies.

Adding excavation:  Every time a little pore ice is extracted, more dry overburden is created, and extraction stops.  Then the entire surface-capture system must be removed for another round of excavation.  That's pointless labor; you'd just excavate ice instead.

That's leveraged labor. For an "ore deposit" that is X percent ice, the excavation labor is also reduced by X%.  For a glacial deposit with 90% ice that's a 90% reduction in excavation.

Plus you get solar heating at 80-90% efficiency vs 20-40%. This added energy both melts and distills the water, outputting pure water. It doubles as an energy source and a material upgrading process.

Glaciers give uncommon surfaces and purity.  On glacier slopes, induced meltwater can remove overburden to expose ice repeatedly.  No excavation required, in summer anyway.

Couldn't have said it better myself!
"The search for a universal design which suits all sites, people, and situations is obviously impossible. What is possible is well designed examples of the application of universal principles." ~~ David Holmgren

Offline LMT

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Re: Mars Water-Based ISRU Architectures from RASCAL competition
« Reply #17 on: 09/29/2022 11:47 am »
Skin depth is a straightforward application of thermal conduction. Adding fissures and "gardening" the surface allows gas exchange directly at lower depths, so a simple conduction model no longer applies.

The low Siberian density applies, and it "allows gas exchange", obviously. 

Water is released only when the pulse penetrates -- extremely hard on dim, cold Mars.  "Arguesses" on gardening, surface area, and equilibrium ignore the actual physics.

« Last Edit: 09/29/2022 12:16 pm by LMT »

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