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#1 2005-02-07 07:15:29

Dr_Deakyne
Member
From: Abington, PA
Registered: 2005-02-07
Posts: 2

Re: Getting air on Mars

I was just wondering how people in a colony would proceed to create breathable air once they were up on Mars and any preliminary air that they brought with them had been used up.  This question has been confusing me for a while.

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#2 2005-02-07 07:58:43

Rxke
Member
From: Belgium
Registered: 2003-11-03
Posts: 3,658

Re: Getting air on Mars

Hello, Dr_Deakyne, welcome to New Mars!

There are different ways to do it. Air wouldn't be too much of a problem, for Mars has an atmosphere already.
Unbreathable to us, for sure, and far too low pressure. But... All the ingredients to brew an Earth-similar mix are there, in that thin air. Even if it is only in minute amounts, pumps will be able to gather it 'out of thin air,' quite literally!
So in essence one could just haul a compressor, cooling device and powersource and be set.

Pump the Martian air into a closed vessel, and cool it down to first freeze out the CO2, then pump the cold gas (which is now CO2-free) to another vessel, cool down further, to get liquid oxygen, nitrogen, tracegasses... siphon off the stuff you want before cooling further down.. Repeat.
so, a bit like refining crude oil.
Afterwards, re-mix in the quantities fit for breathing, and bring up to a viable pressure. (and temperature, of course, heehee..)

Of course, most of the CO2 will have to be discarded again, some of it could be reused to power pneumatic stuff or something, but that's another thread  big_smile

And if one should find a readily available source of water or ice, creating O2 would be even more straightforward, just elecrolyse it.

So, creating a breathable atmosphere will be possible, if not quite energy-demanding. A lot of the air will be recycled, I'm sure, at least initially, when spare power will be somewhat scarce...


ExoMars' launcher's 2nd stage is probably en route to Mars. Unsterilised... yikes

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#3 2005-02-07 12:25:09

Dook
Banned
From: USA
Registered: 2004-01-09
Posts: 1,409

Re: Getting air on Mars

A crew on mars would get their oxygen from the in-situ rocket propellant production.  Carried hydrogen is mixed with carbon dioxide to make methane rocket fuel and water (h2o) which is split into oxygen oxidizer and hydrogen, (the hydrogen goes back into the process).  This would probably be the most efficient.

There is a unit, the name escapes me at the moment, that takes in martian carbon dioxide, heats it, and passes it over a ceramic grid.  This separates the oxygen from the carbon monoxide, the carbon monoxide is then discharged.  The machine is small, about the size of a volleyball, and it produces very small amounts of oxygen.  I think I figured out a while back that it would take over 100 of them to provide enough oxygen for two people a day.

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#4 2005-02-07 22:12:23

Zusayan
Member
From: uk
Registered: 2005-02-06
Posts: 14
Website

Re: Getting air on Mars

We will pump in CO2 Martian atmosphere and seperate the Carbon (for soil) from the Oxygen (which is fed in to the complex or stored for later use).

Also an insulated greenhouse dome (c.f the eden project) for growing acres of plant life for air, some for food and herbal supplements/health - and as a leasure tranquil area.

Sprinklers for recycled-water, and solar-charging heat lamps to help out. Lots of human fertilizer after the methane has been extracted and pressurised as a combustable/burnt as a heat source/water-heater.

A few acres of plants for air will produce one human oxygen requirement. (and also we only need 10% oxygen to survive, and earths air is 20% so this gives time for emergencys.)

Solar-charged light-lamps (with light-sensor) will turn themselves on at night and provide one source/supplemental lighting for the habitat. Similar solar heat-lamps will help out.

Each room and corridor should have at least one pot-plant to help freshen the air (works on earth too).

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#5 2005-02-15 13:22:32

maxie
Member
From: Europe
Registered: 2005-02-15
Posts: 84

Re: Getting air on Mars

There is a unit, the name escapes me at the moment, that takes in martian carbon dioxide, heats it, and passes it over a ceramic grid.  This separates the oxygen from the carbon monoxide, the carbon monoxide is then discharged.  The machine is small, about the size of a volleyball, and it produces very small amounts of oxygen.  I think I figured out a while back that it would take over 100 of them to provide enough oxygen for two people a day.

Solide oxide electrolysis, using yttria-stabilized zirconia. For example, read this:

http://ares.ame.arizona.edu/publication … -paper.pdf

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#6 2005-02-15 15:06:21

Rxke
Member
From: Belgium
Registered: 2003-11-03
Posts: 3,658

Re: Getting air on Mars

Yay for maxie!  :up:

Is yttrium (dunno if that's the right way to write the element in English...) available on Mars? I's a rare-earth metal, no?


ExoMars' launcher's 2nd stage is probably en route to Mars. Unsterilised... yikes

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#7 2005-02-16 02:41:14

maxie
Member
From: Europe
Registered: 2005-02-15
Posts: 84

Re: Getting air on Mars

Is yttrium (dunno if that's the right way to write the element in English...) available on Mars? I's a rare-earth metal, no?

Yes, yttria is the oxide of yttrium (Y2O3), which is a rare-earth metal.  smile
If it's available on Earth, you can bet it's available on Mars too. Actually, I think almost any minerals we have here on Earth can be found on Mars too, but in slightly different proportions, with some exceptions, like hematite smile . At least that is what I hope. If it's easily obtainable (are there deposits? are the deposits close to the surface?), that's another set of question, to which future colonists 100-500 years from now will have to answer.

http://pearl1.lanl.gov/periodic/elements/39.html :

Yttrium occurs in nearly all of the rare-earth minerals. Analysis of lunar rock samples obtained during the Apollo missions show a relatively high yttrium content.

http://www.webelements.com/webelements/ … Y/key.html :

Pure yttrium is available through the reduction of YF3 with calcium metal.
2YF3 + 3Ca -> 2Y + 3CaF2

But apparently solide oxide electrolysis doesn't produce enough oxygen all by itself, and IMHO it's not a good idea to be dependant of only one source, so there is the need for another sources, like plant photosynthesis and H2O electrolysis.

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#8 2005-02-20 10:51:19

Dook
Banned
From: USA
Registered: 2004-01-09
Posts: 1,409

Re: Getting air on Mars

More on the solid oxide electrolysis machine.

The Solid Oxygen Generation System weighs 1 kilogram, is the size of an outstretched hand and consumes less than 15 watt's during initial warm up and 9.5 watts afterwards.  It is capable of producing .5 cubic cm of oxygen per minute (720 cu cm a day).

The mix provides the feedstock for the chemical reaction. A wafer-thin, solid-oxide ceramic disk made of zirconia, about the size of a small cookie, is sandwiched between two platinum electrodes and heated to 1,380 degrees Fahrenheit (750 degrees Centigrade). When carbon dioxide is fed to this unit, the zirconia cell "cracks" the carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide and oxygen. Only the oxygen can penetrate through to the other side of the disk; the carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide gases are stopped in their tracks.
The ceramic "battery" requires less than 15 watts of power to create one cubic centimeter (.061 cu in) of oxygen per minute, 3.6 cu inch an hour, times 24 hours equals 86.4 cubic inches.

The average human being consumes 1.8 pounds of oxygen everyday and that is converted to 2.2 pounds of carbon dioxide.  Average human breath is .25 liter or 15.2575 cu in.  20 breath's a minute, average, sitting relaxed.  381.4 cu in an hour consumption per person.

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#9 2005-02-20 14:59:52

dickbill
Member
Registered: 2002-09-28
Posts: 749

Re: Getting air on Mars

One of the viking experiment also produced Oxygen : in The gas exchange experiment (GEX), a little bit of martian soil was introduced into a canister aboard the viking lander, a little bit of water was added and a rise in oxygen concentration was observed in the canister.
The GEX was initially designed to detect life, and the rise of oxygen could be a signature of microorganisms present in the soil, but instead, this was intepreted by the presence of peroxydes in the martian soil, like H2O2 which in presence of water decomposes into H2O and O2. The interpretation is still controversial, people talked about superoxydes or even that it was real proof of the presence of microorganisms.
Whatever, the raw martian soil could thus be another source of oxygen if necessary.

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#10 2005-02-20 16:11:10

Dook
Banned
From: USA
Registered: 2004-01-09
Posts: 1,409

Re: Getting air on Mars

I wonder what will happen if and when we warm the planet and all that ice turns into oceans? 

Will it oxygenate the oceans?

Will the oceans be alkaline or acidic?

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#11 2005-02-21 00:51:34

RobS
Member
From: South Bend, IN
Registered: 2002-01-15
Posts: 1,701
Website

Re: Getting air on Mars

Mars may not have enough water around still to make oceans, just salt lakes. The amount of oxygen in the soil is pretty small and would not increase the atmosphere noticeably. The CO2 in the air, mixed with water, will make the lakes acidic, and the salts deposited at Meridiani tell us the water there was acidic. The oceans of the early Earth were acidic as well.

                      -- RobS

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#12 2005-02-21 07:39:54

Dook
Banned
From: USA
Registered: 2004-01-09
Posts: 1,409

Re: Getting air on Mars

Rob have you seen the graphic renderings of mars with water?  The northern hemisphere would be an ocean, Valles Marineris is flooded, and the huge crater in the southern hemisphere is a sea.  There are also two large lakes as well.

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#13 2005-04-10 07:26:40

srmeaney
Member
From: 18 tiwi gdns rd, TIWI NT 0810
Registered: 2005-03-18
Posts: 976

Re: Getting air on Mars

I reccomend the extraction of industrial waste oxygen.

1. Spin Diamond spheres in a microwave from CO2.
            The waste product is Oxygen.

2. Electric arc produced Carbon buckytube nanofibers.
            The waste product is Oxygen.

The production of Carbon materials will justify the expense of separating out the Oxygen. Carbon fibers will allow the production of exotic carbon fiber based steels.

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#14 2005-04-10 09:26:37

dicktice
Member
From: Nova Scotia, Canada
Registered: 2002-11-01
Posts: 1,764

Re: Getting air on Mars

Aside from low-voltage electrolysis of water, I have nothing novel to contribute, except to say: What a great and useful thread to pursue further! I hope the Editor (?) leaves it in New Posts indefinitly for us to absorb and consider, perhaps to come up with (besides Mars) en route air production and treatment germain to space enterprise in general. At least as important as propulsion, and infinitely more than religion, for God's sake, which seems never-ending.

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#15 2005-04-22 21:35:03

MarsDog
Member
From: vancouver canada
Registered: 2004-03-24
Posts: 852

Re: Getting air on Mars

Martian atmosphere

Gas Properties

Carbon Dioxide 95.32%   -78.5   °C  freezing
Nitrogen 2.7%              -195.8  °C
Argon 1.6%                 -185.9  °C
Oxygen 0.13                -182.96 °C

Freeze out and discard the CO2.
Freeze out the Argon and Oxygen, discard the Nitrogen gas.

Vaporize the Oxygen and some of the Argon to get a breathable mixture.

Of course, after the greenhouses become operational;
use the plants (potatoes) to produce oxygen.

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#16 2005-04-23 00:17:27

Rxke
Member
From: Belgium
Registered: 2003-11-03
Posts: 3,658

Re: Getting air on Mars

That was my initial idea, too, MardDog.

A fairly simple operation, mechanically speaking, 'just' a set of radiators, compressors, pumps, vessels and a powersource.
With the big hi/low temp cycling of Mars, it could be doable, to do some good cooling, but it will still be quite energy/hungry....

And thenn there's the dust, potentially clogging your pumps/compressors...

but a good plumber could maintain such a setup, I'd think without wasting too much head-scratching.


ExoMars' launcher's 2nd stage is probably en route to Mars. Unsterilised... yikes

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#17 2005-04-23 00:38:35

srmeaney
Member
From: 18 tiwi gdns rd, TIWI NT 0810
Registered: 2005-03-18
Posts: 976

Re: Getting air on Mars

Of course there is always the very deep hole where CO2 is subjected to such pressure that the molecular bonds are stressed until the Oxygen escapes leaving behind the Carbon. The depth required is something like five miles.

This provides ample Carbon Dioxide removal and Oxygen production. The size of the hole is about the size produced by a drilling rig. Very cost efficient regarding the production rate. Perhaps ideal for Mars.

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#18 2005-04-23 13:44:04

MarsDog
Member
From: vancouver canada
Registered: 2004-03-24
Posts: 852

Re: Getting air on Mars

CRYOGENIC GAS SEPARATION has been used for over 100 years.

Smaller scale production on Mars may use NON-CRYOGENIC GAS SEPARATION

A commercial model could be adapted to Martian conditions.

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#19 2005-04-23 15:45:56

RobS
Member
From: South Bend, IN
Registered: 2002-01-15
Posts: 1,701
Website

Re: Getting air on Mars

srmeaney, what are you talking about? A five mile deep hole on Mars will not even produce enough pressure to make the atmosphere as dense as it is on Earth. Maybe you mean five miles of weight of rock; but of course you don't have that in an open hole. I'm sure five miles of rock is not enough to break up carbon dioxide even on Earth; CO2 comes out of oil and gas wells, and some of them are close to that depth.

         -- RobS

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#20 2005-04-23 22:37:05

Shaun Barrett
Member
From: Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Registered: 2001-12-28
Posts: 2,843

Re: Getting air on Mars

Yeah, Sean.
    I've never heard of this technique of squeezing CO2 until the carbon releases the oxygen. Can you provide us with a link?  ???


The word 'aerobics' came about when the gym instructors got together and said: If we're going to charge $10 an hour, we can't call it Jumping Up and Down.   - Rita Rudner

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#21 2005-04-23 23:46:16

MarsDog
Member
From: vancouver canada
Registered: 2004-03-24
Posts: 852

Re: Getting air on Mars

Oxygen Production from Martian Atmosphere

Has a java applet

=================================

Raining Diamonds from methane.

Is it possible to deposit carbon from CO2 plasma, leaving Oxygen,
using microwaves and lasers ? ?

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#22 2005-04-25 20:21:05

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 17,874

Re: Getting air on Mars

Since most gasses go from a gas to a liquid state and then to a frozen one. What would it on take to get it to a liquid co2 then to do a electrolysis process to seperate them into the elements much like water is done...

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#23 2005-04-28 08:53:27

MarsDog
Member
From: vancouver canada
Registered: 2004-03-24
Posts: 852

Re: Getting air on Mars

People are doing it.

Comes down to safety, ease and efficiency.

But then, what do you use the leftover carbon for ?

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#24 2005-04-28 10:00:07

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 17,874

Re: Getting air on Mars

Thanks for the google;
You could use the carbon in the nano manufacturing of the nanotubes for a space elevator or even what now is research on a new type of wire using nanotubes and no copper.

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#25 2005-04-28 17:10:17

MarsDog
Member
From: vancouver canada
Registered: 2004-03-24
Posts: 852

Re: Getting air on Mars

According to NASA the average person needs 0.84 kg of O2 per day

From CO2
That produces 0.84/(32/12)=0.315 kg of C/person/day.

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