Carbon Monoxide Metal Oxide Reduction System
The Carbon Monoxide Metal Oxide Reduction System (COMORS) is a method of producing useful oxygen by reducing oxides found in Lunar and Martian surface material. The COMORS heats the oxides to temperatures where the oxygen atoms combine with carbon monoxide gas acting as a reducing agent, producing carbon dioxide. The CO2 is reduced with hydrogen in a reverse water gas shift (RWGS) reactor, and the CO is recycled to the metal oxide reactor. The water produced in the RWGS reaction is electrolyzed; the oxygen is stored and the hydrogen recycled to the RWGS reactor. The COMORS is similar to some hydrogen/ilmenite reduction methods proposed for Lunar missions. Unlike the hydrogen based methods, however, the carbon monoxide/RWGS cycle can operate with higher energy efficiencies, lower losses, and lower temperatures. The concept is very applicable to reduction of Mars metal oxides since the greater content of iron oxides in Mars minerals will result in greater oxygen production for a given unit of oxide feed. This proposal demonstrates CO reduction methods for reducing metallic minerals on the Moon and Mars for oxygen production for human exploration.
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