The development of efficient in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) technologies is crucial for the establishment of an extraterrestrial, self-sustaining colony. The generation of rocket fuel at potential colony locations is necessary to provide the transportation of people and cargo to and from these locations.Three processes are discussed for the improvement of ISRU methods to generate rocket fuel: electrolysis and electrochemical improvements to the process of crude fuel production, physical and chemical methods for separation of gaseous H2 and O2, and materials and cryogenics engineering for storage and transportation of liquid hydrogen (LH2) and liquid oxygen (LOX). Storage and transportation of cryogenics like LOX and LH2 is a highly researched field due to its applications in making clean and renewable energy widely available and similar methods can also be applied for the acquisition of rocket fuel. Storage methods such as the self-evaporating vapor cooled shield (VCS) or thermoacoustic refrigerator shield (TRS) have been shown to decrease the loss of evaporated cryogenics. Additional methods such as solid-state material engineering with materials such as cesium superoxide (CeO2) have also shown potential for long-term storage of LH2 and LOX.
Sharp J. Improvements to ISRU for Rocket Fuel Generation. James Madison Undergraduate Research Journal. 2023;10(1):50-59. commons.lib.jmu.edu/jmu/vol10/iss1/5/