Energy harnessed from CO2 could power space missions on Mars

Researchers have discovered a new technique to harvest energy from carbon dioxide that could power life on Mars.

Published Date
10 - Mar - 2015
| Last Updated
10 - Mar - 2015
Energy harnessed from CO2 could power space missions on Mars

A team of researchers have developed a new technique based on the Leidenfrost effect, which produces energy from carbon dioxide (CO2) that could be used to power space explorations and sustain life on Mars.

Researchers from Northumbria University and Edinburgh University have developed a technique based on Leidenfrost effect- a phenomenon which happens when a liquid comes into near contact with a surface much hotter than its boiling point. The technique could be applied to CO2 or dry ice. The researchers propose using the vapors created by this technique could power an engine. The skill lies in the fact that the technique can be used in extreme environments such as the outer space. If this technique could be used, then future missions to Mars, may not need to be 'one-way'.

One of the co-authors of Northumbria's research, Dr Rodrigo Ledesma-Aguilar, said: "Carbon dioxide plays a similar role on Mars as water does on Earth. It is a widely available resource which undergoes cyclic phase changes under the natural Martian temperature variations. Perhaps future power stations on Mars will exploit such a resource to harvest energy as dry-ice blocks evaporate, or to channel the chemical energy extracted from other carbon-based sources, such as methane gas."

According to Executive Dean for Engineering and Environment, Professor Glen McHale the low-friction nature of this engine could have other exciting applications.

Professor McHale, who also worked on the new research with Dr Wells and Dr Ledesma-Aguilar, said: "This is the starting point of an exciting avenue of research in smart materials engineering. In the future, Leidenfrost-based devices could find applications in wide ranging fields, spanning from frictionless transport to outer space exploration".

Source: Northumbria University