5, July 2019

ESA Open Invitation to Tender AO9920
Open Date: 04/07/2019
Closing Date: 16/09/2019 13:00:00

Status: ISSUED
Reference Nr.: 19.1EP.06
Special Prov.: NO+GR
Tender Type: C
Price Range: > 500 KEURO
Products: Satellites & Probes / Power / Storage: Fuel cells / Orbital Transportation & Re-entry Systems / Environment and Crew Life Support (ECLS) / ECLS / Pressure, air, water, lighting systems, … / Orbital Transportation & Re-entry Systems / Power / Power Storage / Batteries / Orbital Transportation & Re-entry Systems / Propulsion and Reboost / Chemical Propulsion / Propellants
Technology Domains: Spacecraft Electrical Power / Power Generation Technologies / Fuel Cell Technologies / Propulsion / Supporting Propulsion Technologies and Tools / Propellants / Environmental Control & Life Support (ECLS) and In Situ Resource Utilisation (ISRU) / ISRU / Fuels
Establishment: ESTEC
Directorate: Directorate of Tech, Eng. & Quality
Department: Electrical Department
Division: Power Systems, EMC & Space Environ.Div
Contract Officer: Karl, Heinz-Uwe
Industrial Policy Measure: N/A – Not apply
Last Update Date: 04/07/2019
Update Reason: Summary updated

Any manned exploration surface mission will rely on the availability of Oxygen for breathing, a power source that can operate independently of solar illumination and possibly, the ability to manufacture rocket propellant in-situ. All of these requirements can be met by the electrolysis of in-situ manufactured water. To achieve a highly reliable, light weight system, development of an electrolysis system that operates at high pressure is crucial. For manned Mars missions, it is not viable to rely solely on the Oxygen that is taken to Mars from Earth because there is a continuous loss of it over time. This means, a source of fresh oxygen has to be made available for the astronauts. The presence of water has been confirmed in some areas on Mars. This water can be extracted and used by In Situ Resource Utilisation (ISRU) as a resource for Oxygen. In order to extract oxygen from water, an electrolyser system is needed, this would also open up the possibility of storing excess H2/O2 fuel to be fed into a Fuel Cell power system. Further to this, on Lunar missions there is a possibility to manufacture H2/O2 Fuel cell Fuel or propellant from water that is created in-situ by the carbo-thermal reduction of regolith and methane reduction. This provides a supply of water that can then be electrolysed to supply H2/O2 fuel for power generation or as propellant. The electrolysis of water can be achieved by Electrolyser technology, which is readily available for terrestrial use. In order to keep the oxygen and hydrogen storage tanks compact and to avoid mechanical compressors with limited reliability, an electrolysis system that operates at high pressure of above 10 bars is preferred. This activity encompasses the following tasks: Assessment of water containing ISRU material and how it is processed, analysis of system requirements, proposition of possible electrolyser system architecture, designing and developing a breadboard electrolyser system, manufacturing a breadboard electrolyser system and testing the latter, road mapping of the steps to take the system from TRL3 to TRL6.

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