Settlers on Mars! (involuntary reference to Fascisti su Marte): Mary Semaan, Net Zero Water System on Mars, MA Dissertation, University of Miami, 2015


Abstract: A voyage to Mars is no longer a figment of the human imagination. Several agencies are planning to send manned missions to the Red planet as soon as 2025. Two of them are planning to establish bases. Mars One, a non-profit foundation, plans to send manned missions in 2025 (Mars One Foundation, n.d.). NASA (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration) plans to send settlers to Mars in the 2030s (NASA, Journey to Mars, n.d.). Given that the voyage is long and costly, the astronauts must set up camp on Mars. A fully functioning water/wastewater management system is thus necessary for the success of such a mission. The objective of this thesis is to evaluate constraints and propose a design for such a system including the identification of the most suitable location and set of unit processes, and to develop mass balances to justify it. The system proposed involves 70% water recycling, with the use of microwave energy to mine for 30% water from the Martian regolith by sublimation. Wastewater will be segregated, urine, greywater and blackwater, and treated separately. Essential plant nutrients will be extracted from the urine to be used later for agriculture. Water will be extracted from greywater and the resulting brine disposed of safely. Water extracted from urine and greywater will be treated by advanced oxidation to provide drinking water to the habitat. Blackwater is proposed for use in a modified compost process to prepare Martian regolith or other base for eventual agriculture. The proposed design operates without chemical feed or other routine external additives, utilizes the temperature difference between night and day during the Martian sols, and minimizes disturbance of the Martian environment.

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