Humankind faces two global challenges: solving the environmental problem of air pollution and space exploration. In the solution of both problems, an important place is occupied by obtaining a sufficient amount of oxygen (O2). At the same time it is necessary molecular oxygen, which allows a person to breathe.
Developers from california technologyThe institute announced the creation of a fundamentally new reactor capable of “producing” molecular oxygen from ordinary carbon dioxide (CO2). Such oxygen is suitable both for interplanetary flights, and for saving the Earth from ecological catastrophe.
Currently on the International SpaceThe station's process of obtaining oxygen is based on the electrolysis of water, during which the H2O molecule splits into hydrogen and oxygen, which then accumulate in special pressure vessels. In the new reactor developed in California, the principle of operation is based on the removal of carbon atoms from CO2. The process is based on the discovery of a phenomenon in which carbon molecules placed under certain conditions on an inert surface (for example, gold foil) are split into molecular O2 and atomic C.
During the preparatory process, the moleculecarbon is ionized, and then placed in an electric field, which accelerates it and sends in the direction of the surface covered with gold foil. Productivity is currently quite modest: out of 100 CO2 molecules, up to 2 O2 molecules are “produced”. However, the reactor demonstrated the efficiency of the process, which gives hope for improved performance.
In the future, new generators will be able to produce oxygen for lunar and Martian expeditions, and on Earth to remove excess carbon and reduce pollution of the planet.