Robot produces oxygen from minerals from Mars

Isbel Lázaro.

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Inspenet, November 16, 2023.

A chemical robot has examined meteorite samples and evaluated various catalysts, presenting a possible strategy to generate oxygen in a colony on Mars. This machine operates autonomously in a laboratory and has created a catalyst capable of producing it from minerals present in Martian meteorites.

This method could be used in the future to generate oxygen for astronauts on Mars. Delivering supplies to a future colony on Mars via spacecraft would be extremely expensive, making the production of materials using Martian natural resources an attractive option. However, this task can be challenging due to the lower availability of elements on Mars compared to Earth.

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Yi Luo, together with his team at the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei, created this fully automated chemical robot that used a high-powered laser to examine the chemical composition of five meteorites from Mars, identifying six elements in significant quantities. : iron, nickel, calcium, magnesium, aluminum and manganese.

On Earth, we don’t use these six elements because we have more options ,” says Luo. ” These six elements are not the best for this type of catalyst and limit its performance, but it is what is on Mars .”

Notably, more than 3.7 million unique combinations of Martian elements would be available for manual testing, so instead of examining each combination manually, the robot used artificial intelligence to predict what would be the most effective combination of elements as a catalyst for the production of oxygen. Subsequently, he manufactured and evaluated more than 200 catalysts, using a saline solution and carbon dioxide as raw materials.

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