Extraordinary idea for long-time missions to Mars: Turning astronaut waste into fuel on Mars. How exactly?

Credit image: ESA
Credit image: ESA

Article by: Andacs Robert Eugen, on 23 March 2022, at 10:01 am Los Angeles time

A great idea for producing fuel for rockets that will travel to Mars or maybe even further, is turning astronaut waste into fuel. The idea comes from a team of researchers at the Spanish technology center Tekniker, which is currently working with ESA to find ways to use sunlight to turn wastewater into fuel. 

You will find that if it can be applied to Mars, then it can be applied to Earth. In short, it is an idea that can help both trips to Mars be less expensive and more efficient, but it can also help reduce pollution on Earth. If we find a way to turn wastewater into fuel, pollution will be greatly reduced on Earth. 

 "We aim to make the first reactor to produce space propellant on Mars using the planet's air, which is 95% carbon dioxide. The reactor will be powered by sunlight, and astronauts' greywater will be used to help in the production of the propellant. Bringing all these concepts and technologies together to create an efficient and operational system is a challenge, but thanks to this project Europe will have a unique system to provide other space agencies and companies, as well as reduce its dependence on technology from other space agencies." explains Borja Pozo from Tekniker.

Also, an ESA expert, Jean-Christophe Berton, technical officer for the project explain us more about this new idea: "The outcome of this activity could provide ESA with valuable input on the production of propellant on Mars or to power remote sites like ground stations on Earth. It could also potentially provide input on how to decarbonise our own atmosphere." 

"For example, the technology might be used for carbon dioxide reduction solutions in industry or in any land-based sector," Borja adds. "In addition, the technology can be used to develop similar new products that reuse greywater produced by companies or personal means of transport such as boats and motorhomes." 

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