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I was reading about the Perseverance lander on Mars and was surprised to find that it has an oxygen manufacturing instrument on board. The oxygen is needed as a part of a binary rocket fuel to get back from Mars. It makes oxygen from carbon dioxide, a technology that would be very useful for carbon capture here on Earth. I can not find the chemistry or the technology that makes this work. Does anybody know the chemistry of this instrument?

The following is the text from nasa.gov explaining the mechanism of MOXIE:

Mars’ atmosphere is 96% carbon dioxide. MOXIE works by separating oxygen atoms from carbon dioxide molecules, which are made up of one carbon atom and two oxygen atoms. A waste product, carbon monoxide, is emitted into the Martian atmosphere.

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    $\begingroup$ Carbon capture is not about chemistry at all. The real problem is "where is the money". $\endgroup$ – Ivan Neretin Apr 22 at 8:58
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    $\begingroup$ It would only be a useful process if the energy cost of doing it were remotely reasonable (heck, if we did it now we'd probably need to burn even more fossil fuel to generate the energy, releasing even more CO2 than we'd consume by the process!) $\endgroup$ – matt_black Apr 22 at 11:29
  • $\begingroup$ If you really wish to see the details, see this article: Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment (MOXIE), it has all the pictures that you will ever need. link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11214-020-00782-8 $\endgroup$ – M. Farooq Apr 22 at 21:43
  • $\begingroup$ The abstract in this link has some details of the process - nature.com/articles/s41560-019-0457-4 $\endgroup$ – user10186832 Apr 28 at 15:37
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On this site, Nasa give some closer information on the MOXIE system. It splits electrochemically $\ce{2 CO2}$ into $\ce{2 CO}$ and $\ce{O2}$.

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  • $\begingroup$ There must be a catalyst involved. $\endgroup$ – user10186832 Apr 22 at 9:07
  • $\begingroup$ I think we are talking about the principle of a solide ocide electrolyzer which is roughtly explained here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solid_oxide_electrolyzer_cell $\endgroup$ – Inselino Apr 22 at 9:13
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    $\begingroup$ For this to be a good answer it should include the details of how the process works: link-only answers are frowned upon. $\endgroup$ – matt_black Apr 22 at 11:26
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    $\begingroup$ I am sorry but the question was, which chemical principal is behind it. The principal is electrochemical split via a solid oxide electrolyzer cell. This could be found with an easy online research. If he is looking for a detailed description of the process, which preasure temperature, which currency, voltage etc. than I expect to do some research before and then ask a more precise question. $\endgroup$ – Inselino Apr 22 at 12:00

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