Contaminant removal from oxygen production systems for In Situ resource utilization

Stephen M. Anthony, Edgardo Santiago-Maldonado, James G. Captain, Ashtamurthy S. Pawate, Paul J.A. Kenis

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


The In Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) project has been developing technologies to produce oxygen from lunar regolith to provide consumables to a lunar outpost. The processes developed reduce metal oxides in the regolith to produce water, which is then electrolyzed to produce oxygen. Hydrochloic and hydrofluoric acids are byproducts of the reduction processes, as halide minerals are also reduced at oxide reduction conditions. Because of the stringent water quality requirements for electrolysis, there is a need for a contaminant removal process. The Contaminant Removal from Oxygen Production Systems (CROPS) team has been developing a separation process to remove these contaminants in the gas and liquid phase that eliminates the need for consumables. CROPS has been using Nafion, a highly water selective polymeric proton exchange membrane, to recover pure water from the contaminated solution. Membrane thickness, product stream flow rate, and acid solution temperature were varied with the goal of maximizing water permeation and acid rejection. The results show that water permeation increases with increasing solution temperature and product stream flow rate, while acid rejection increases with decreasing solution temperature and concentration. Thinner membranes allowed for higher water flux and acid rejection than thicker ones. These results were used in the development of the hardware built for the most recent Mars ISRU demonstration project, and will be used in conjunction with other unit operations to obtain electrolysis-grade water.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAIAA SPACE Conference and Exposition 2012
StatePublished - Dec 1 2012
EventAIAA SPACE Conference and Exposition 2012 - Pasadena, CA, United States
Duration: Sep 11 2012Sep 13 2012

Publication series

NameAIAA SPACE Conference and Exposition 2012


OtherAIAA SPACE Conference and Exposition 2012
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityPasadena, CA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering


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