University of Cincinnati Reactor Makes Martian Fuel

UC chemical engineering assistant professor Jingjie Wu, left and doctoral student Tianyu Zhang are experimenting with different catalysts to convert carbon dioxide to storable fuel to address climate change. (Credit: Andrew Higley/UC Creative + Brand)

by Michael Miller
University of Cincinnati

Engineers at the University of Cincinnati are developing new ways to convert greenhouse gases to fuel to address climate change and get astronauts home from Mars.

UC College of Engineering and Applied Science assistant professor Jingjie Wu and his students used a carbon catalyst in a reactor to convert carbon dioxide into methane. Known as the “Sabatier reaction” from the late French chemist Paul Sabatier, it’s a process the International Space Station uses to scrub the carbon dioxide from air the astronauts breathe and generate rocket fuel to keep the station in high orbit.