Preprint Concept Paper Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Imagining Sustainable Human Ecosystems with Power-to-x in-situ Resource Utilisation Technology

Version 1 : Received: 25 November 2021 / Approved: 26 November 2021 / Online: 26 November 2021 (13:07:24 CET)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.

Journal reference: Acta Astronautica 2022, 192, 190-198
DOI: 10.1016/j.actaastro.2021.12.031


Extensive in-situ resource utilisation (ISRU) will be essential to enable long-duration stays on Luna and Mars and reduce reliance on resupply from Earth. Early development of ISRU technologies has focused on standalone capabilities for specific targets related to life support and ascent propellant. An unexplored opportunity remains for greatly expanding the scope of materials that can be supplied by ISRU, and for integrating various technology platforms into a larger system. Recent advances in power-to-X technology aimed at decarbonising the global economy have made it possible to drive key chemical processes using electricity with small-scale, modular reactor. This paper proposes a vision for an integrated system of ISRU processes based on power-to-X technology to produce oxygen, hydrogen, water, methane, polymers, metal alloys, and synthetic fertilisers, using Martian regolith, atmosphere, and ice. A ‘building block’ strategy is adopted to convert raw materials into versatile intermediaries, which can then be combined to form essential products. A wider range of raw materials are available on Mars compared to Luna, suggesting greater opportunity for ISRU deployment to compensate for the greater time and cost requirements for a Mars resupply mission.


Power-to-X; Space; energy storage; in-situ resource utilisation; ammonia; circular economy;



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