November 18th, 2017

Robert Zubrin: Demonstration of Reverse Water-Gas Shift System The Mars Society

Originally posted on Facebook by Dr. Robert Zubrin, President of the Mars Society and also leads a for-profit company Pioneer Energy

Piloted Mars Mission RWGS System Demonstrated
Robert Zubrin
November 16, 2017

From November 14-15 2017 the R&D team at Pioneer Energy, a spinoff company of Pioneer Astronautics, conducted a 24 hour non-stop demonstration of an integrated Reverse Water Gas Shift-Methanol system. We also did a 5 hour demonstration of a system for turning the methanol into dimethyl ether. All tests were witnessed by judges from the X-Prize Carbon competition.

The RWGS was run at an average rate of 70 liters per minute CO2 and hydrogen feed. It averaged about 99% efficiency in reducing CO2 to CO, producing an exhaust that was roughly 99% CO and 1% CO2. Conversions as high as 99.8% were achieved, but system parameters were adjusted to decrease efficiency to 99% because 1% CO2 is desired in the methanol synthesis feed to improve system kinetics. Approximately 81 kg of water was produced by the RWGS in the course of the 24 hour run.

The CO from the RWGS was then fed into the methanol synthesis unit, where it was reacted with hydrogen to produce approximately 105 kg of methanol in the course of the 24 hour run. Some of the methanol product was then taken to the dimethyl ether synthesis unit, where it produced and captured in liquid form 11.8 kg of DME over a 5 hour period, for a daily production rate of 57 kg per day. Approximately 17.7 kg net of methanol was consumed to make the 11.8 kg of DME, for a combined conversion and capture efficiency of about 93%. (100% efficiency would have resulted in 12.72 kg DME, because two methanols react to produce one DME and one H2O.)

It may be noted that if the water produced by the system were electrolyzed, it would produce 72 kg of oxygen per day, or 36 metric tons over a 500 period. The methanol system would produce 52.5 metric tons of methanol. The DME system would produce 28.5 tons of DME.

Oxygen burns with DME at a stoichiometric ratio of 2.087. So if the 28.5 tons of DME produced were combined with 59.5 tons of oxygen, a total of 88 tons of useful bipropellant would be available. Alternatively, if oxygen is viewed as the limiting propellant, by combining the 36 tons of oxygen with 20 tons of DME (to run slightly fuel rich) 56 tons of useful bipropellant would be available. If the oxygen product were used in a LOX/RP engine burning at 2.8:1, at total of 49 tons of useful bipropellant would be available.

In any case, more propellant would be produced by such a system than that required for the ascent vehicle in the NASA design reference mission. Finally, it may be noted that if the RWGS system were run in parallel in a Sabatier Electrolysis (S/E) system sized to produce 48 kg of CH4 and 96 kg of O2 per day, a total of 24 tons of methane and 84 tons of oxygen would be produced, which is sufficient to fly the Mars Direct mission.

ISRU has entered a new world.

Above is a photo of the team that did it.

-Robert Zubrin

August 7th, 2014

17th Annual International Mars Society Convention The Mars Society

Today marks the kick-off of the 17th Annual International Mars Society Convention in the Houston, Texas area, running from August 7-10. You can follow the 4-day conference by watching the major plenary talks online.

August 7th, 2014

Watch the 17th Annual Mars Society Convention Live The Mars Society

The Mars Society will be convening the 17th Annual International Mars Society Convention in the Houston area from August 7-10. For those unable to attend the four-day conference, please consider watching the convention plenary talks live via the Internet on Livestream video broadcast.

June 29th, 2014

June 30th Deadline — 2014 Mars Society Convention Abstract Submission & Early Registration The Mars Society

The Mars Society will be convening the 17th Annual International Mars Society Convention in League City, Texas (outside Houston near NASA’s Johnson Space Center) on August 7-10, 2014. The four-day event will bring together key experts, scientists, government policymakers and aerospace executives to discuss the latest news on Mars exploration and planning for a humans-to-Mars mission in the coming decade.
Monday, June 30th at 5:00 pm MDT marks the official deadline for two important points of this year’s Mars Society Convention: 1) Submitting an abstract for consideration on matters associated with the exploration and settlement of the Red Planet, and 2) Signing up for early registration for the convention, which provides a discounted rate for purchasing tickets for the Houston-based conference.

June 26th, 2014

Zubrin Challenges Chang Diaz to Debate at Mars Society Convention in Houston The Mars Society

Mars Society President Dr. Robert Zubrin has challenged Ad Astra President & CEO Dr. Franklin Chang Diaz to a debate at the 17th Annual International Mars Society Convention, which will be held in Ad Astra’s hometown of Houston, Texas August 7-10, 2014. The proposed debate proposition is: Resolved “Electric Propulsion in an Enabling Technology for Human Mars Exploration,” with Dr. Chang Diaz representing the affirmative side and Dr. Zubrin the negative side.
Commenting on the challenge, Dr. Zubrin said, “This debate is critically necessary. Dr. Chang Diaz has been actively propagandizing an argument combining three claims. First, that cosmic radiation hazards dictate that current day propulsion, which enables six month transits from Earth to Mars, is too slow to enablehuman mission to Mars. Second, that therefore much faster forms of interplanetary propulsion are necessary before we dare undertake human Mars exploration missions. Third, that his VASIMR propulsion system would uniquely enable such quick trips.

May 8th, 2014

EVA Hand Signals The Mars Society

In the past NASA has asked its spacewalking crews to come up with a set of hand signals for communication in the event of audio loss. And for a long time this worked out very well. However after a water filled spacewalk on the Space Station last July, NASA determined that it would be better to have an official set.
Before I left for Mars/Utah a friend of mine who trains astronauts asked that we come up with our own set of hand signals for comparison. Without having us look at the official NASA signals, they wanted to get an outside perspective on the issue and potentially incorporate our signals with theirs. And while our signals would be devised primarily for surface use, there is still enough overlap for zero g spacewalks that most of them will remain relevant (some will need modification though).

August 15th, 2013

LIVE VIDEO: The Mars Society Conference The Mars Society

The Mars Society will be hosting its 16th Annual International Mars Society Convention from August 15-18 at the University of Colorado in Boulder. The organization is pleased to announce that all plenary talks during this year’s convention will be broadcast live on the Internet via a special video webcast.

June 13th, 2013

Mars Society Announces High-Level Science Team for Mars Arctic 365 Simulation The Mars Society

Several weeks ago, the Mars Society announced that it was initiating a ground-breaking project known as Mars Arctic 365, a special one-year Mars surface simulation mission to take place at the Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station (FMARS) on Devon Island in northern Canada.
The Mars Arctic 365 program, scheduled to begin in the summer of 2014, will provide scientists with the most extensive testing to date on how a multi-person crew can live and work together under isolated, stressful and harsh conditions as part of a human mission to the Red Planet.

September 27th, 2012

The Mars Society Launches Major Membership Drive The Mars Society

The Mars Society has launched a new campaign to add 1,000 new members to the organization by December 31st. If you’re not already a member, join us today. Also ask your friends and relatives to consider becoming part of our effort to educate the public, the media and government about the importance of an expanded Mars exploration program and the need for a humans-to-Mars mission in the coming decade.

August 1st, 2012

Mars Society 15th Annual Convention – Pasadena CA The Mars Society

The Mars Society is pleased to announce that it will be convening the 15th Annual International Mars Society Convention at the Pasadena Convention Center on August 3 – 5, 2012 in Pasadena, California. The annual event convenes key experts, scientists and policymakers to discuss the latest news regarding Mars exploration and efforts to promote a humans-to-Mars mission in the coming years.