PublisherThe University of Arizona.
DescriptionGroup project with Paul Cuillier, Christina Loera, and Zach Westman
AbstractUtilizing physicochemical and catalytic reactions, our team developed a non-biological process and scalable apparatus to produce selected carbon-based sugar molecules using only CO2 as a carbon source. The process consists of a multi-step reaction pathway in which carbon dioxide molecules are photochemically converted to formaldehyde, and then catalyzed via a formose reaction scheme to produce four to seven carbon sugars. Complex sugars such as D-Glucose and 6-carbon sugars (hexoses) are considered most desirable by NASA; therefore, the process also includes a separation phase in which 6-carbon and 7-carbon chains are output as products and smaller molecules are recycled as substrates to the formose reaction to form longer carbon chains. Multiple alternatives were evaluated to determine reaction conditions which produced the greatest yield and efficiency. The system was designed to have low power, mass, and volume requirements and to be feasible for potential future space missions.