Scientists have figured out how to get oxygen and fuel from the salt water of Mars

Mars is a very cold planet and the water is full of salt. It is not drinkable, but electrolysis allows

split it into oxygen (for breathing) and hydrogen (for fuel). However, salt removal on Mars is a cumbersome and costly job in harsh and dangerous conditions.

But if oxygen and hydrogen are directly extracted fromsalt water, the electrolysis process becomes less complicated and expensive. Engineers from the University of Washington in St. Louis have developed a system that will be useful to future colonizers of Mars.

The research team tested their brine electrolysis system in both typical Earth conditions and a simulated Martian atmosphere at –36 ° C.

Summer 2008 NASA Phoenix Mars"Touched and tasted" the Martian water. Since then, the Mars Express of the European Space Agency (ESA) has discovered several underground bodies of water. They remain in a liquid state due to the presence of magnesium perchlorate - the magnesium salt of perchloric acid.

To live - even temporarily - on Mars and returnto Earth, astronauts will have to produce some of the essentials themselves, on site, including water and fuel. NASA's Perseverance rover is equipped with instruments that will use high-temperature electrolysis to transform salt water. However, this Mars In-Place Oxygen Experiment (MOXIE) is only capable of producing oxygen from carbon dioxide in the air.

A system developed by engineers from WashingtonUniversity, can produce 25 times more oxygen than MOXIE using the same amount of energy. It also produces hydrogen that can be used as fuel.

The unique design and use of an anode allows the system to operate without the need for heating or cleaning the water source.

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