Plasma Extraction of Oxygen from Martian Atmosphere

Period of Performance: 01/01/2014 - 12/31/2014

$121K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Umpqua Research Company
P.O. Box 609
Myrtle Creek, OR 97457
Principal Investigator
Firm POC

Abstract

Plasma techniques are proposed for the extraction of oxygen from the abundant carbon dioxide contained in the Martian atmosphere (96 % CO2). In this process, CO2 is directly decomposed in an energetic plasma forming O2 and CO, which are immediately separated. The Phase I project will clearly demonstrate the feasibility of achieving these goals by focusing on key aspects of the technology, such as efficient microwave plasma conversion at relevant pressures and processing rates as well as effective techniques for O2 separation from product gases. System mass and energy efficiency of this novel technology will be compared to those for SOA processes. The Phase II program will advance the technology through a more in depth development effort to the point where a fully functional prototype will be assembled and tested. Successful culmination of this effort will result in a self-contained, energy efficient technique that can be utilized by robotic precursor missions to Mars to stockpile oxygen in support of future manned missions to the planet.