Fly to Mars? Chemists learned how to extract oxygen from water in zero gravity


                                Летим к Марсу? Химики научились добывать кислород из воды в невесомости

The method is designed for long-term space missions: it is able to provide hydrogen fuel and oxygen for breathing astronauts.

The idea of long flights to other planets, which work hard now all space agencies of the world face many problems – including where to get sufficient oxygen and hydrogen for the realization of this idea. New technology is photolysis, developed by American scientists, helps to extract oxygen from water in microgravity.

Scientists from the California Institute of technology took a sample of the way in which plants convert light and water into fuel and oxygen — and created a photoelectrochemical cell that separates the hydrogen and oxygen in the presence of a catalyst. However, can such a process happen in zero gravity?

To simulate microgravity, the scientists dropped a capsule with a photoelectrochemical cell with a height of 120 meters: it fell with a speed about 160 km/h in 10 seconds. Acceleration of free fall creates the effect of microgravity. The researchers thus proved that even in these conditions it is possible to separate water into oxygen and hydrogen.

One question remains: where did the astronauts take such a quantity of water? Chemists propose to use for this purpose icy asteroids.

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