Manned Mission To Mars Close To Possibility As New Tech Transforms Salty Water To Oxygen And Fuel

KEY POINTS

  • Unlike NASA’s MOXIE, this new technology can produce oxygen and hydrogen from salty water
  • The team behind this device wants to partner with NASA for its goal of bringing humans to Mars by 2023
  • Apart from Martian missions, the new technology is also useful on Earth

Access to water and fuel remains to be the biggest barrier to manned missions to Mars. The good news is that a new electrolyzer technology could trample that obstacle, making it possible for humans to survive the extreme conditions on the Red Planet. 

A team of engineers developed an electrolyzer device that can turn salty water into fuel and oxygen. Details of their development were published in the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

This device can produce 25 times more oxygen than NASA’s Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE), which is currently used by the Perseverance rover that’s currently on its way to Mars.

Unlike MOXIE, which produces oxygen from carbon dioxide, the new tech from the engineers of Washington University can produce both oxygen and hydrogen even from salty water. 

“Our novel brine electrolyzer incorporates a lead ruthenate pyrochlore anode developed by our team in conjunction with a platinum on carbon cathode,” Vijay Ramani, lead author and professor at the McKelvey School of Engineering at Washington University, said in a press release.  

“These carefully designed components coupled with the optimal use of traditional electrochemical engineering principles has yielded this high performance,” he explained further.

The team hopes it could partner with NASA for its goal of bringing humans to Mars by 2023. After all, it performed a simulation of the Martian atmosphere at -33 degrees Fahrenheit in testing its brine electrolysis device.  

Salty water is abundant on Mars, a fact that has already been established by various studies in the past. In September, three underground lakes were also discovered on the Red Planet. The waters were found to contain extremely salty components. 

Apart from Martian missions, the technology is also useful on Earth, according to the engineers. The standard electrolysis device on Earth requires pure water, whereas this new device can make oxygen and fuel even from salty water, making it more economical to use. 

The electrolysis system also has diverse applications. For instance, submarines for deep ocean exploration can rely on the system to produce enough supply of oxygen and fuel from salty water.

Mars seen from the Hubble space telescope Mars seen from the Hubble space telescope Photo: NASA / NASA

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Is making College Football Playoff a possibility?

COLLEGE STATION — When linebacker Anthony Hines opted out of playing for Texas A&M less than a week prior to kickoff, the Aggies hated to lose quality depth at the position.



a group of baseball players playing a game of football: Texas A&M linebacker Aaron Hansford has worked his way onto the NFL radar after taking over as a starter late in the preseason.


© Rogelio V. Solis, Associated Press

Texas A&M linebacker Aaron Hansford has worked his way onto the NFL radar after taking over as a starter late in the preseason.


They didn’t mind who would be earning even more snaps in Hines’ sudden absence, however: senior Aaron Hansford, who had made a strong bid in camp to start whether Hines was part of the program or not.

Hansford, who in 2016 started his A&M career as a receiver under then-coach Kevin Sumlin and moved to halfback and tight end along the way, shifted to linebacker prior to the 2019 season.

He quickly relearned the position — he had played linebacker in high school back home in Washington, D.C. — and through four games this season is third on the team with 24 tackles (including a sack) for the 3-1 and No. 7 Aggies.

Leading to this tweet from Jim Nagy, longtime NFL scout, ESPN NFL draft analyst and executive director of the Reese’s Senior Bowl: “One prospect that has made a jump from junior tape is … Aaron Hansford. (He’s) a first-year starting converted tight end (who’s) gotten better every game so far in 2020.”

Nagy added that insiders have informed him Hansford, who’s 6-3 and 245, can run the 40-yard dash in the high 4.5-second range (aka fast for a nearly 250-pound guy). On to a handful of a submissions with the Aggies off this weekend and next hosting Arkansas on Halloween night, as always with some edited for brevity and clarity:

Q: Do the players get to go home during the bye weekend? They usually do, but wasn’t sure if that changed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. — Bill

BZ: Jimbo Fisher said he trusts his players to use good judgment on an off weekend. Fisher really doesn’t have any choice.

“You can’t stop them, they can go (home) all they want,” Fisher said. “You tell them to be smart, like I always have. (For instance) after a game, how do I stop them from seeing their families? When their families come to a game, it’s no different.”

Fisher said he emphasizes with his players to only be around people who have been tested for the virus, “and don’t jeopardize the team in any way, shape or form.”

As for Fisher’s plans this weekend?

“If I can, I’ll be with the family,” he said. “I may watch some (football) here and there, depending on what (family members) want to do.

The coach added that the Fisher crew, including his sons, might head out into the countryside for a time, or do a little hunting. Fisher, 55, married Courtney Harrison over the summer.

“It could be anything,” Fisher said of the bye-week Fisher home itinerary. “After a ton of prep, I’ll try and spend a little time with the

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