Engineering Mars commercial rocket propellant production for the Big Falcon Rocket (part 2)
The RWGS itself would consist of a simple compatible metal pipe, like steel, filled with a catalyst. According to experiments done by Pioneer Astronautics in Lakewood, Colorado, the best catalyst for this reaction is silica (consisting of five percent copper by weight) and a smaller amount of nickel. In the completed chemical process, one kilogram of carbon dioxide and hydrogen give you 0.3 kilograms of water. However, a RWGS reaction can go both ways, and this catalyst produces carbon monoxide with an efficiency of 60 percent conversion of carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide at 350°C under a pressure of 150 torr. This efficiency results because this reaction has a low equilibrium constant even at temperatures of 400°C. So to “push” the reaction toward production of the desired product, the RWGS reactor must be fed with either a hydrogen-rich or a carbon dioxide-rich mixture to ensure satisfactory results.