Life on Mars? Possibly, thanks to oxygen-producing technology

Good Tuesday afternoon. It’s no secret that a lot of unique stuff has happened in 2020. Here’s another one for that list: Missouri engineers’ research could lead to humans colonizing the Red Planet by using saltwater under the surface as a life-sustaining resource.

Engineers at Washington University in St. Louis developed technology that separates salty water into oxygen and hydrogen. Electrolysis technology typically only works well on purified, salt-free water, and it is a costly, cumbersome, and potentially dangerous process to remove the salt first.

  • The researchers’ brine electrolysis works well for creating on-demand oxygen and hydrogen from saltwater under Earthly environmental conditions. But it also works under a simulated Martian atmosphere of -33°F.
  • The system reportedly can produce 25 times more oxygen than NASA’s electrolysis instruments using the same amount of power, as well as enough hydrogen to fuel astronauts’ return trip from the planet.
  • The hydrogen- and oxygen-generating technology would enable humans to manufacture some of their own necessities for fuel and breathing, which scientists say is fundamental for living on Mars, even temporarily. The technology also has applications on Earth, such as enabling deep-sea exploration.

Today’s headlines:


  • A new report indicates Illinois utility ComEd, and its parent company Exelon, experienced record profits due to legislation authorizing $2.6 billion in smart grid investments, yet customers received few benefits and have higher bills, reports Energy News Network.
  • The National Renewable Energy Laboratory touts its synthetic data sets as the new standard in full-scale modeling and simulation for energy systems. The near-replica power grid models protect utilities’ sensitive data while keeping the realism of true power grids.

🔋 BATTERIES: Wired examines recent efforts to find better ways to recycle lithium-ion batteries, including at Argonne National Laboratory’s year-old ReCell Center.

🌱 AGRICULTURE: Pure Green Farms in South Bend, Indiana, will begin operations at its 4-acre, indoor hydroponic food growing facility in February, reports The Packer.

🏃 ACCELERATOR: Milwaukee-based Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance is putting up $20 million in funding for a 12-week accelerator program for Black entrepreneurs, reports The Wall Street Journal.

🏆 COMPETITION: Nominations are open for Indiana nonprofit TechPoint’s 2020 Mira Awards honoring innovation excellence across the state.

💻 EVENT: Michigan’s Chief Mobility Officer will be among the speakers during a Canada-United States Business Association webinar on Dec. 14 covering mobility innovation in the Great Lakes region.

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