Dioxide Materials has been awarded an SBIR Phase 1 Grant from NASA to develop a room temperature electrolyzer for generation of oxygen from carbon dioxide on Mars that can also be used for improving oxygen recovery on the International Space Station, other crewed spacecraft, or for energy storage devices. The devices are similar to a solid oxide electrolyzer, in that they can operate on dry CO2, but the devices use a proprietary polymer rather than a solid oxide to allow them to operate at room temperature (~25 ºC).
In ARPA-E supported work, we have already demonstrated CO2 electrolysis for 3000 hours and 95% selectivity under wet conditions and 100 hours with a dry cathode. 5000-hour tests are scheduled shortly. In the proposed work, we will adapt the devices to NASA missions. In particular, we will modify our membranes, so they can be run with minimal water, improve strength to allow higher differential pressure operation, and complete the various tests.
Potential NASA Applications
We think these devices will have three potential NASA applications:
- Oxygen production in Mars
- Improving oxygen recovery on the ISS or in other manned space craft.
- As an energy storage device.
Potential Non-NASA Applications
Dioxide Materials and our partners at 3M are interested in pursuing two different opportunities: small electrolyzers as CO2 sensors in HVAC systems and fire detection modules, and large electrolyzers as a way of recycling CO2 back to fuels and chemicals, as a way of lowering chemicals cost and as a way of reducing global warming.