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Author Topic: QotW - 08.02.03 - Recycled Oxygen  (Read 16874 times)

Offline thedoc

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QotW - 08.02.03 - Recycled Oxygen
« on: 29/01/2008 19:52:06 »
How is oxygen made and recycled on the International Space Station?
Asked by Tom Gallard, London
« Last Edit: 29/01/2008 19:53:21 by BenV »


 

Offline thedoc

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Re: QotW - 08.02.03 - Recycled Oxygen
« Reply #1 on: 29/01/2008 19:52:06 »
We put this question to Mark Hempsell, Senior Lecturer, University of Bristol:

The oxygen isnt strictly recycled.  The carbon dioxide that the humans breathe out is filtered out of the air with a molecular sieve then simply dumped overboard.  The oxygen is created from the water that comes from the air and from the washbasins and from the loos.  After that water is cleaned up it is electrolysed.  An electric current is passed through it and it is separated into hydrogen and oxygen.  The hydrogen is dumped overboard; the oxygen is fed into the cabin for the crew to breathe.
« Last Edit: 05/02/2008 17:55:31 by BenV »
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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QotW - 08.02.03 - Recycled Oxygen
« Reply #2 on: 31/01/2008 15:14:20 »
The only way I can think to produce it would be by splitting water into hydrogen & oxygen; but wouldn't it be easier/cheaper to ship pressurised oxygen cylinders from Earth?

As for re-cycling it - a series of biological or chemical filters, maybe?
« Last Edit: 31/01/2008 15:16:28 by DoctorBeaver »
 

Offline lightarrow

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QotW - 08.02.03 - Recycled Oxygen
« Reply #3 on: 01/02/2008 08:17:00 »
If I remember correctly, at least in the past they used compounds like lithium (usually preferred because lighter) or potassium peroxide: it absorbs the CO2 and the H2O produced by the astronauts and in doing this it releases O2:

2Li2O2 + 2CO2 --> 2Li2CO3 + O2

2Li2O2 + 2H2O --> 4LiOH + O2

Edit: In a 15 y.o. chemistry book I have (Malatesta, Inorganic Chemistry, third edition) is stated: "...Potassium superoxyde KO2 is mostly used to "transform" CO2 in O2 in submarines, space veichles, breath masks:
4KO2 + 4CO2 + 2H2O --> 4KHCO3 + 3O2.
« Last Edit: 01/02/2008 18:16:52 by lightarrow »
 

lyner

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QotW - 08.02.03 - Recycled Oxygen
« Reply #4 on: 01/02/2008 17:24:30 »
http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2000/ast13nov_1.htm
This talks about the problem and makes sense.
 

Offline chris

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QotW - 08.02.03 - Recycled Oxygen
« Reply #5 on: 03/02/2008 10:55:33 »
The NASA article says something very interesting - that emergency oxygen is produced by "perchlorate candles" and that the same system is used to produce the emergency oxygen supply on aeroplanes. Unfortunately they give no details of this reaction - so what is it?

Chris
 

Offline lightarrow

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QotW - 08.02.03 - Recycled Oxygen
« Reply #6 on: 03/02/2008 13:06:45 »
The NASA article says something very interesting - that emergency oxygen is produced by "perchlorate candles" and that the same system is used to produce the emergency oxygen supply on aeroplanes. Unfortunately they give no details of this reaction - so what is it?

Chris

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chemical_oxygen_generator:
Quote
A chlorate candle, or an oxygen candle, is a cylindrical chemical oxygen generator containing a mix of sodium chlorate and iron powder. When ignited, the mixture smolders at about 600 C (1100F), producing sodium chloride, iron oxide, and about 6.5 man-hours of oxygen per kilogram of the mixture. It releases oxygen at a fixed rate. The mixture has an indefinite shelf life if stored properly; candles stored for 20 years have shown no decrease in oxygen output. The oxygen is released by thermal decomposition. The heat is supplied by the burning iron.
I imagine that with perchlorate it works in the same way.
« Last Edit: 03/02/2008 13:09:34 by lightarrow »
 

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QotW - 08.02.03 - Recycled Oxygen
« Reply #6 on: 03/02/2008 13:06:45 »

 

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