Chemical processing of the dusty, low-pressure Martian atmosphere for production of propellants and other consumables will require conditioning and compression of the gases as first steps. A temperature-swing adsorption process can perform these tasks using solid-state hardware and with relatively low power consumption compared to alternative processes. The process can also separate the atmospheric constituents, producing both pressurized CO2 and a buffer gas mixture of nitrogen and argon.
We have developed and tested adsorption-based compressors with production levels appropriate for near-term robotic flight experiments, which are needed to demonstrate the basic technologies for ISRU-based human exploration missions. In this talk we describe the characteristics, testing, and performance of these devices. We also discuss scale-up issues associated with meeting the processing demands of sample return and human missions.