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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University of Newcastle transforms with Dynamics 365, strengthens links to students and strategic partners

One of the marquee users of the CRM is the University’s international student office where just about the entire team uses Dynamics 365 in their daily role.

Coutman explains; “Inquiries from international students are captured in CRM, as well as applications for admission. This has really streamlined the process for the team managing this process and the feedback has been positive.”

It has also improved the student experience as efficiency has soared and applications and inquiries are dealt with much faster than was previously possible. Dynamics 365 has also streamlined the University’s engagement with overseas education agencies which act as the front door for many international students.

“Implementing a more efficient approach to managing international inquiries and applications has improved the University’s interactions with overseas agencies, which enhances our reputation in this competitive market,” says Coutman.

Shane Parsons, Director, Microsoft Business Apps, KPMG says, “Dynamics 365 has delivered to the University much needed transparency about student applications, and the ability to act much faster and to move swiftly and efficiently through the application to acceptance process.”

While the initial focus has been on streamlining engagement with international students the University is now extending Dynamics 365 into other areas such as recruitment, admissions and higher degree by research applications.

For the University, having access to a central source of information is proving very useful, with much more granular understanding of who is applying for which courses, and providing the university a real opportunity to identify and create valuable international strategic partnerships. The system also helps to identify any bottlenecks in the process that it can then address.

It means, says Coutman, that; “We now have much greater visibility of where prospective students are in their journey with the University.  For example, we know how many active inquiries we have at any point in time and how many, and when, people are converting from the inquiry to applicant stage. All the different stages that a prospective student would work through, we can see that in Dynamics.

“The management team can then use this information for analytical purposes and to identify opportunities for improving the student journey. “

Coutman stresses that the focus has been on achieving both efficiency for the University and a better experience for the student.

“It was about having visibility, that single view of customer, and the data available in one place to be able to provide a higher level of service to our stakeholders.”

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