Chinese Scientists Discover How To Create Oxygen, Water And Fuel On The Moon

In the near future, people will go to the moon and stay there for a long time. For astronauts to be able to stay there for the duration of their mission, they must first figure out how to make oxygen, water, and fuel from what is already there, since they can’t get these things from Earth.

Now, a group of Chinese astronomers from Nanjing University have found a way to do this, which will make it easier for people to explore space and build a permanent base.

After looking at the lunar soil that the Chinese spacecraft Chang’e 5 brought back from the moon, these researchers found iron- and titanium-rich materials that could be used as catalysts to make oxygen and fuel from the CO2 and solar radiation that future astronauts will breathe out.

Scientists Yingfang Yao and Zhigang Zou are in charge of the group. They think that a kind of “alien photosynthesis” could help people explore the Moon and other planets in the Solar System.

This would be possible because, as they explain, the oxygen we breathe comes from plants and other photosynthetic organisms. They make oxygen while turning carbon dioxide (CO2) and sunlight into energy-rich sugars.

With the help of solar radiation, the system would use the lunar soil to electrolyze water, which could be taken from the Moon itself, and dehydrate the gases that astronauts breathe out to make oxygen and hydrogen. All of this can be done without using energy from outside, making an extraterrestrial life support system that uses “zero energy.”

In fact, the carbon dioxide that people who live on the Moon in the future will give off can be stored and mixed with the hydrogen through a process called “hydrogenation,” which is sped up by the lunar soil. Hydrocarbons like methane, which could be used as fuel, would be made. Yao said, “We use local resources to reduce the weight of the rocket, and our plan shows how an extraterrestrial living environment could be sustainable and affordable.”

The results of this work have been published in the scientific journal Joule, and the team is already looking for a chance to test this system in space, probably during China’s future manned lunar missions.

Yao also said that his team is already trying out different ways to improve the design of catalysts. For example, they are melting lunar soil to make a “high-entropy nanostructured material.”

A type of “alien photosynthesis” that would make it easier for people to explore the Moon. In the near future, the industry of manned space flight will grow quickly. We are now in the “Age of Space,” which is similar to the “Age of Sail” in the 17th century, when hundreds of ships took to the sea.

But if we want to do a large-scale exploration of worlds other than our own, we will have to think of ways to reduce the payload, which means we will have to use as few supplies from Earth as possible and instead use resources from other worlds.

Reference(s): Peer-Reviewed Research, NewScientist