Scientists Will Produce Oxygen From Just Water In Zero Gravity

Posted: Jul 13 2018, 1:26am CDT | by , Updated: Jul 13 2018, 1:56am CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 
Scientists will Produce Oxygen from Just Water in Zero Gravity
Artist’s rendering of a Mars artificial gravity transfer vehicle. Credit: NASA

The method can make long term space travel a real possibility

When humans someday venture to Mars and other deep space destinations, one of the most important things they will need is oxygen. The availability of oxygen determines how far away from Earth we can travel and how long we can stay in space. Although we can stock oxygen for astronauts to breathe, it will not last long periods of time and great distance will also make it difficult to do refill.

For long-duration space missions, humans need to have as much breathable oxygen in their environments, as possible. To turn this into a reality, NASA is creating a safe, efficient and reliable system of generating oxygen. NASA researchers have developed an environment similar to microgravity and showed that it is possible to produce hydrogen and oxygen from water alone.

“Long-term space missions require extra-terrestrial production of storable, renewable energy. Hydrogen is ascribed a crucial role for transportation, electrical power and oxygen generation. We demonstrate in a series of drop tower experiments that efficient direct hydrogen production can be realized photoelectrochemically in microgravity environment, providing an alternative route to existing life support technologies for space travel.” Authors wrote in the study.

Water can split into hydrogen and oxygen. If we use a process known as electrolysis, which involves passing a current through a liquid or electrically conducting solution, we can break down the water into oxygen and hydrogen. Hydrogen and oxygen produced in this way from water could also be used as a fuel but it is not readily available for space mission just yet.

On Earth, this process involves solar cells to capture sunlight and convert this into a current. The alternative is to use photocatalysts. It works by absorbing light particles into a semiconductor material inserted into the water. The latter is also the best option for space travel.

In the latest study, researchers have experimented with a semiconductor material and sunlight in simulated zero gravity and used it to split water. However, researchers believe that further research is needed to refine the process.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.

 

 

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