Scientists have managed to produce oxygen from magnets for astronauts of the future. Yep, researchers from the University of Warwick have made oxygen for astronauts using magnets.
"On the International Space Station, oxygen is generated using an electrolytic cell that splits water into hydrogen and oxygen, but then you have to get those gasses out of the system," the study's lead author, Álvaro Romero-Calvo, a recent Ph.D. graduate from the University of Colorado Boulder said in a statement.
This method might not work for a trip to Mars and could make things worse. Currently, NASA uses centrifuges to get oxygen in space. However, those machines are large and energy intensive. Magnets could produce the same results more practically, scientists have found.
Using magnets to generate oxygen
The tests for the same happened at the Center for Applied Space Technology and Microgravity (ZARM) in Germany at a facility that mimics microgravity conditions. "After years of analytical and computational research, being able to use this amazing drop tower in Germany provided concrete proof that this concept will function in the zero-g space environment," Professor Hanspeter Schaub of the University of Colorado Boulder said.
According to Interesting Engineering, researchers used a procedure to "detach gas bubbles from electrode surfaces in microgravity environments generated for 9.2s at the Bremen Drop Tower." Essentially, this showed for the first time that gas bubbles can be "attracted to" and "repelled from" from a simple magnet in microgravity by immersing them in various types of aqueous solutions.
The new method could be extremely handy for generating oxygen in long-term space missions, and the study has been published in npj Microgravity journal.
Papadopoulos, L. (2022, August 13). In a first, researchers produce oxygen from magnets for space exploration. Interesting Engineering.