Thermal design of a Mars oxygen production plantThe optimal design of the thermal components of a system that uses carbon dioxide from the Martian atmosphere to produce oxygen for spacecraft propulsion and/or life support is discussed. The gases are pressurized, heated and passed through an electrochemical cell. Carbon dioxide is reduced to carbon monoxide and oxygen due to thermal dissociation and electrocatalysis. The oxygen thus formed is separated from the gas mixture by the electrochemical cell. The objective of the design is to optimize both the overall mass and the power consumption of the system. The analysis shows that at electrochemical cell efficiencies of about 50 percent and lower, the optimal system would require unspent carbon dioxide in the exhaust gases to be separated and recycled. Various methods of efficiently compressing the intake gases to system pressures of 0.1 MPa are investigated. The total power requirement for oxygen production rates of 1, 5, and 10 kg/day at various cell efficiencies are presented.
Sridhar, K. R. (Arizona Univ. Tucson, AZ, United States)
Iyer, Venkatesh A. (Arizona, University Tucson, United States)