December 5, 2022

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They will turn air, dust and sunlight into iron.  But not on the ground

They will turn air, dust and sunlight into iron. But not on the ground

Akbar Ramdani and his colleagues presented a novel idea with which they would like to convert commonly available materials into iron.

In this case, the researchers mean Mars, where – if the planet was ever colonized – it would be possible to extract resources. Thus, they developed a method for converting air, dust and sunlight into iron. This process uses concentrated solar energy as a heat source, and carbon formed by cooling carbon monoxide, a byproduct of oxygen formation in the Martian atmosphere.

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The possibility of producing oxygen on the Red Planet has already been confirmed by the Perseverance rover, which has done so as part of the MOXIE (Mars Site Oxygen Resource Utilization Experiment) project. The mineral extraction process is coupled with the installation of a potential oxygen generator that operates on a much larger scale. In the future, this will lead to the production of oxygen and iron alloys, which will be used by the colonists.

The MOXIE experiment showed that oxygen could be produced on Mars

On-site resource utilization will be critical due to the high cost of teleportation and the risk of failure. That is why it is better to use what is available on Mars than to deliver it from our planet there. Whenever a one-way trip takes several months.

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In conjunction with the Fluid Dynamics and Processes Research Group and the Institute of Space Technology and Industry, the researchers are working with CSIRO Minerals and the space technology future science platform CSIRO to move to the next stage of the research. As Rhamdhani explains, his team would like to develop a mineral extraction process on Mars that already uses on-site resources, without bringing reactors from Earth. This will allow our species to explore the Red Planet even further. Detailed arrangements on this matter are available at Acta Space.

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