Lunar Soil Converts Carbon Dioxide into Oxygen; Could Be Used as Rocket Fuel, Say Chinese Scientists

A study has found that lunar soil could convert carbon dioxide into oxygen and rocket fuel. Scientists in China have analyzed the lunar soil, which was brought by Beijing's Chang'e 5 spacecraft. They found that the soil contains iron and titanium mixed substances, which could help make oxygen using carbon dioxide and sunlight.

Lunar rover
Representative image Pixabay

Yingfang Yao and Zhigang Zou, Scientists from Nanjing University, could design a system to take advantage of solar radiation and lunar soil. They have also proposed an extraterrestrial photosynthesis process.

Extraterrestrial Photosynthesis Process

The system uses lunar soil to electrolyze water extracted from the moon and in astronauts' breathing exhaust into oxygen and hydrogen-powered by sunlight. The carbon dioxide exhaled by moon inhabitants is also collected and combined with hydrogen from water electrolysis during a hydrogenation process catalyzed by lunar soil, according to Science Daily.

The process results in giving hydrocarbons that are used as fuel. No external energy is used in the process apart from the sunlight and it could produce a variety of products such as oxygen, water, and fuel. The strategy has also paved the way for the possibility of human survival on the Moon.

China To Conduct Tests in Lunar Space

The scientists now aim to conduct the tests in lunar space during China's upcoming human mission to Moon.

The researchers have also revealed that lunar soil is less catalytic when compared to Earth's soil. Therefore, scientists are planning to melt the lunar soil into an extremely short high-entropy material that can work as a better catalyst.

It's not the first time that scientists are making strategies for extraterrestrial survival. NASA was also involved in such a process.

But these plans require energy sources from Earth. Even NASA's rover on Mars Perseverance makes oxygen from carbon dioxide but it receives energy from a nuclear battery onboard.