Design and trial of extraterrestrial artificial photosynthesis device
Chinese Space Science and Technology
2020, 40 (6):
In-situ resource utilization (ISRU) technology is a promising process for recycling extraterrestrial resources and constructing life support system to realize survival in extraterrestrial environment. ISRU has been the core technology in human deep space exploration. Based on the microchannel technique, a flow reactor was designed to simulate artificial photosynthesis in microgravity and other special environmental conditions as well as to realize the conversion of carbon dioxide to oxygen and hydrocarbons. The microchannel based reactor can accelerate the products of the gas-liquid reaction from the electrode surface with the reaction medium by the sheer force. Theoretically, it can overcome the influence of microgravity conditions on the reaction process, which needs to be verified by microgravity experiments in future. Simultaneously, the optimized reaction conditions can be obtained in the microchannel structure by precisely controlling the pressure, flow rate and ratio of input gas to liquid. Based on the artificial photosynthesis reactor, an extraterrestrial artificial photosynthesis device was developed, which integrated the reaction module, control module, flow drive module and detection module. The feasibility of the reactor in reducing carbon dioxide to oxygen and carbonaceous compound (CO) was verified by ground experiment. With Au and Ir/C as the catalytic cathode and anode electrode respectively, the evaluation rate of O２ can reach 11.74 mL/h under 3 V applied voltage. This device possesses multifunction of in-situ physicochemical reaction, medium supply, precise control, products collection and analysis. And this device can implement effective conversion of carbon dioxide and oxygen generation. The work provides a theoretical and practical foundation for subsequent device optimization, carbon dioxide conversion to variable hydrocarbon products with high selectivity, and on-orbit test of artificial photosynthesis device.
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