Carbon Formation Theory for Space Oxygen Processes

by Peter E. Nolan, Univ of Arizona, Tucson, United States,
Andrew Hall Cutler, Univ of Arizona, Tucson, United States,
David C. Lynch, Univ of Arizona, Tucson, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Engineering, Construction, and Operations in Space IV


Production of oxygen from the Martian atmosphere or lunar soil and the recovery of oxygen in manned space environments may include carbon formation from CO as a unit process. Thermodynamic means for selecting a catalyst are presented. Testing of a nickel catalyst has revealed that carbon deposits as filaments, nanotubes, or encapsulating layers. Since only the later form of carbon deposition may preserve the physical integrity of the catalyst, conditions that promote encapsulating layer formation have been investigated. It has also been determined, contrary to views expressed in the literature, that multiple layers of carbon can be deposited without loss of catalytic activity until a maximum limit is reached. For nickel that limit has been found to be about 33 layers.

Subject Headings: Carbon fibers | Oxygen | Lunar materials | Nickel | Resource management | Soil properties | Mars | Soil gas

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