Author Topic: Carbon Monoxide for fuel on Mars  (Read 38712 times)

Offline sfuerst

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Re: Carbon Monoxide for fuel on Mars
« Reply #20 on: 09/26/2012 06:21 pm »
Another option might be Ethylenetetracarboxylic dianhydride, (C6O6).  It's a stable higher oxocarbon.  However, I haven't seen its chemical stats, so it may have an unsuitable melting/boiling point.  Making it might also be a challenge, something more for an advanced Mars base rather than a first try at ISU.

Online Robotbeat

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Re: Carbon Monoxide for fuel on Mars
« Reply #21 on: 09/26/2012 06:31 pm »
Robotbeat, why would you still have the need to bring hydrogen from Earth still?

Extracting water is a lot harder, since it's only a tiny, tiny portion of the atmosphere and processing any kind of solids requires a lot more hardware. I'm certainly not saying it can't be done, but probably isn't feasible until a base is set up.

A CO/O2 production facility would be a piece of cake in comparison, and would require less power and a HECK of a lot less cryogenic refrigeration equipment. You could build a demo of such a device that could be easily landed as a secondary payload using existing Mars EDL techniques (even Viking-era EDL would be more than sufficient). Not only that, but you don't have to worry about setting down someplace that has water... EVERY part of the surface of Mars has easy access to unlimited CO2.

If you brought a little bit of hydrogen from Earth, however, you could use the same CO/O2 process and make methane/LOx which is more commonly used for rocket fuel than CO/02 is (though the production would be a little harder)... without having to extract water from the soil.
« Last Edit: 09/26/2012 06:33 pm by Robotbeat »
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Re: Carbon Monoxide for fuel on Mars
« Reply #22 on: 09/26/2012 11:19 pm »
how much Methane is available on Mars?   

focus on what can be converted from the Methane & Carbon Monoxide and you have your answers.

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Offline RocketmanUS

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Re: Carbon Monoxide for fuel on Mars
« Reply #23 on: 09/26/2012 11:26 pm »
how much Methane is available on Mars?   

focus on what can be converted from the Methane & Carbon Monoxide and you have your answers.


10ppb methane in the Mars atmosphere.

Use the water in the Mars top soil and or air for the hydrogen needed with the CO2 in the Mars atmosphere to make the CH4.


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Re: Carbon Monoxide for fuel on Mars
« Reply #24 on: 09/27/2012 12:02 am »
how much Methane is available on Mars?   

focus on what can be converted from the Methane & Carbon Monoxide and you have your answers.


10ppb methane in the Mars atmosphere.

Use the water in the Mars top soil and or air for the hydrogen needed with the CO2 in the Mars atmosphere to make the CH4.



when I get some extra time can look into a simple cheap way to do something.  Got an idea coming out of the automotive tech.   Basic idea is that the catalytic converter is the model.

"it converts the three main pollutants in automobile exhaust: an oxidizing reaction converts carbon monoxide (CO) and unburned hydrocarbons (HC), and a reduction reaction converts oxides of nitrogen (NOx) to produce carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen (N2), and water (H2O)."

this could be a decent cheap model to start from.



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Re: Carbon Monoxide for fuel on Mars
« Reply #25 on: 09/30/2012 04:04 pm »
ahhh found this again..

Bioengineered bacteria could produce fuel from CO2
http://www.gizmag.com/bacteria-co2-isobutanol-biofuel/23880/

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Offline simonbp

Re: Carbon Monoxide for fuel on Mars
« Reply #26 on: 10/01/2012 02:59 pm »
ahhh found this again..

Bioengineered bacteria could produce fuel from CO2
http://www.gizmag.com/bacteria-co2-isobutanol-biofuel/23880/

Yeah, no way in hell that's going to happen. The entire goal of at least the first several Mars landings will be the search for life. Dropping down a lander full of culturable microorganisms down is just asking for trouble. It may be an option much, much further down the line (i.e. massive Mars settlement), but not anytime soon.

Also, while they get carbon from the atmosphere in a way that may make sense on Earth, where it's easy to ship in nutrient media, on Mars providing all other needed nutrients (water, fixed nitrogen, iron, etc) is a problem. Again, a solvable one for a large Mars colony, but not a little ISRU rover.
« Last Edit: 10/01/2012 03:01 pm by simonbp »

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Re: Carbon Monoxide for fuel on Mars
« Reply #27 on: 10/01/2012 03:12 pm »
ahhh found this again..

Bioengineered bacteria could produce fuel from CO2
http://www.gizmag.com/bacteria-co2-isobutanol-biofuel/23880/

Yeah, no way in hell that's going to happen. The entire goal of at least the first several Mars landings will be the search for life. Dropping down a lander full of culturable microorganisms down is just asking for trouble. It may be an option much, much further down the line (i.e. massive Mars settlement), but not anytime soon.


ok, you wish to search for life, I prefer to prepare an area that is more comfortable to human life.   Thinking of a paper on Gale as a future 1st human landing site.

Might be better locations, but this one will be studied to death.
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Online mmeijeri

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Re: Carbon Monoxide for fuel on Mars
« Reply #28 on: 10/13/2012 10:58 am »
Robotbeat, I really like the idea of ISRU based exclusively on atmospheric gases.
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Offline douglas100

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Re: Carbon Monoxide for fuel on Mars
« Reply #29 on: 10/13/2012 11:03 am »
Yes, you're not tied to a specific location for your ISRU plant.
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Re: Carbon Monoxide for fuel on Mars
« Reply #30 on: 10/13/2012 12:58 pm »
Not just that, it's also a much smaller technical challenge.
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Offline KelvinZero

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Re: Carbon Monoxide for fuel on Mars
« Reply #31 on: 10/13/2012 02:16 pm »
+1. This is exactly the sort of technical challenge NASA could and should do. A breathtaking step forward into a new paradigm yet unlike so many aborted HSF architectures, totally affordable.

Online Robotbeat

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Re: Carbon Monoxide for fuel on Mars
« Reply #32 on: 10/13/2012 10:08 pm »
Not only that, but if you also have a small fully reusable single-stage Mars lander, you could stock-pile the CO/O2 in orbit in a fully automated fashion, with just one propellant production station landed fully integrated... Mars makes this easier since the atmosphere is great enough to allow you to aerobrake most of your descent delta-v but low enough to allow essentially vacuum Isp and VERY low aero losses on the way up (which allows you to use a smaller-scale launch vehicle). I have a concept for one of these automated propellant production and transport facilities in my head... Not enough time to draw it out.


Robotbeat, I really like the idea of ISRU based exclusively on atmospheric gases.
Totally, totally agreed.
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Offline RocketmanUS

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Re: Carbon Monoxide for fuel on Mars
« Reply #33 on: 10/14/2012 04:10 am »
Not only that, but if you also have a small fully reusable single-stage Mars lander, you could stock-pile the CO/O2 in orbit in a fully automated fashion, with just one propellant production station landed fully integrated... Mars makes this easier since the atmosphere is great enough to allow you to aerobrake most of your descent delta-v but low enough to allow essentially vacuum Isp and VERY low aero losses on the way up (which allows you to use a smaller-scale launch vehicle). I have a concept for one of these automated propellant production and transport facilities in my head... Not enough time to draw it out.


Robotbeat, I really like the idea of ISRU based exclusively on atmospheric gases.
Totally, totally agreed.
Crew will need water. Water can be made in to LH2/LOX as we all know.

However-
If CO/O2 from CO2 can be a rocket fuel with enough performance it could be a good propellent for a reusable lander for cargo before crew ever lands on Mars. Would need a delivery system for cargo to be put into Mars orbit or SML-1.

Online Robotbeat

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Re: Carbon Monoxide for fuel on Mars
« Reply #34 on: 10/14/2012 04:22 am »
Water can be recycled, and rockets are thirstier than astronauts. Propellant is important. Also, co/o2 can be used in a reversible fuel cell with lower cryogenic requirements than liquid hydrogen, which can give pressurized rovers an excellent highly power dense energy source.

Water should be available on parts of mars, but never as easily available as carbon dioxide is.
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Offline quanthasaquality

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Re: Carbon Monoxide for fuel on Mars
« Reply #35 on: 10/14/2012 10:13 am »
I think CO gas spontaneously degrades into carbon and CO2, but don't know how fast it happens.

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Re: Carbon Monoxide for fuel on Mars
« Reply #36 on: 10/14/2012 11:55 am »
We will be vic-toooooo-ri-ous!!!

Offline RocketmanUS

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Re: Carbon Monoxide for fuel on Mars
« Reply #37 on: 10/15/2012 05:46 am »
Water can be recycled, and rockets are thirstier than astronauts. Propellant is important. Also, co/o2 can be used in a reversible fuel cell with lower cryogenic requirements than liquid hydrogen, which can give pressurized rovers an excellent highly power dense energy source.

Water should be available on parts of mars, but never as easily available as carbon dioxide is.
True also.

If CO can be stored for a given amount of time, then it could also be a means to power a base if the solar power were off line due to a dust storm.

So how long can CO be stored on Earth, in orbit?
If it can be stored for a reasonable amount of time then we would need to design an engine that with run on CO/O2. Then all the other parts that are needed too. So how could this be done commercially?

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Carbon Monoxide for fuel on Mars
« Reply #38 on: 10/15/2012 06:37 am »
As regards the thread title CO/O2 looks like a very usable system for work *on* Mars and acceptable performance for ascent *from* Mars.

But slightly off topic does it also make a viable fuel for return *from* Mars?

LH2/LO2 is the obvious propellant for the EDS but would it be a serious hit in tank size and payload to go with a return propellant *solely* mfg on Mars? Once  you've *got* a capability like ISRU does it make sense to use it as much as possible or does LH2 win hands down?

Obvious downsides are developing a CO cooled *large* engine (200Klbs? Bigger) CO engine. Alternatively NASA could just bite the bullet and start developing LO2 cooled engines and halve their development problems. They've known LO2 is not the monster they thought it was since the early 80's
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Offline guckyfan

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Re: Carbon Monoxide for fuel on Mars
« Reply #39 on: 10/15/2012 09:11 am »
But slightly off topic does it also make a viable fuel for return *from* Mars?

The problem would be to get it from the surface to Mars orbit. You would need a reusable one stage to orbit and back to the surface vehicle capable of a significant number of flights to do that.

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