Scientists have presented a new method for removing harmful substances from the surface of Mars. This will allow you to grow plants there in the future.
The researchers explained that there is a substance called perchlorate on the surface of Mars, it is present there in huge concentrations. On Earth, it is a dangerous pollutant that can cause serious thyroid and lung problems. This problem has led many countries to remove it from drinking water and food. This is done by sophisticated multi-step methods that require extreme temperatures and conditions.
Now a team of scientists has developed a bioinspired catalyst that simplifies the perchlorate removal process and breaks down 99% of the contaminant at ambient temperature and pressure. The results obtained make it possible to create “a water-compatible, efficient and reliable catalyst for the decomposition and utilization of [perchlorate] for water purification and space exploration.”
To achieve this result, scientists have developed a system based on molybdenum, a metal that microbes use in the process of enzymatic collection of perchlorate. Using a mixture of conventional fertilizer containing molybdenum, a bipyridine binding molecule, a catalyst, palladium on carbon, and hydrogen gas, the researchers were able to quickly break down perchlorate in water at room temperature.
The researchers also demonstrated that rhenium can improve the stability and self-sustainability of this catalyst design. These two studies represent prototypes of technologies that could simplify the process of removing perchlorate on Earth and in future human missions to Mars.