Cryocoolers 11 pp 199-203 | Cite as

Low-Cost Pulse Tube Liquefier for In-Situ Resource Utilization

  • C. M. Martin
  • J. L. Martin


NASA’s strategy for continued exploration of Mars is based on the concept of using Martian resources to supplement materials brought from earth. This in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) program allows dramatic reduction on the mass of materials that must be transported from the Earth, and is an enabling technology for a manned mission to Mars. A key part of the ISRU strategy is to use the Martian atmosphere along with hydrogen feedstock and chemical reactors brought from earth to produce oxygen and a hydrocarbon as rocket fuel for the return trip to Earth.

Any oxygen produced on Mars will need to be stored for months to years as sufficient reserve is built up. The overall weight of the storage system is lower for liquid oxygen than pressurized gas, so a liquefier is required. We are developing a low-cost oxygen liquefier for in-situ resource utilization. The design point for this cooler is 20 W at 89 K rejecting to 245 K.

The liquefier uses a pulse tube cryocooler, with a linear, opposed pressure wave generator. The pulse tube is being designed for compactness and ease of integration with the balance of the system. The first generation cryocooler has been built and is currently being tested. Performance predictions for this cryocooler are presented.


Pulse Tube Martian Atmosphere Rocket Propellant Manned Mission Cold Head 
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  1. 1.
    NASA Technology Plan, (1999).
  2. 2.
    J.L. Martin, et. al., “Low-Cost, High-Performance Cryocoolers for In-Situ Propellant Production”, In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU-III) Technical Interchange Meeting, Denver, CO, February 1999.Google Scholar
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    P. Kittel, L.J. Salerno, and D.W. Plachta, “Cryocoolers for Human and Robotic Missions to Mars”, Cryocoolers 10, Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, New York (1999), pp. 815–821.Google Scholar
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    G.W. Swift, M.S. Alien, and J.J. Wollan, “Performance of a Tapered Pulse Tube”, Cryocoolers 10, Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, New York (1999), pp. 315–320.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    US Patent 5389844, Linear Electrodynamic Machine, February 14, 1995.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. M. Martin
    • 1
  • J. L. Martin
    • 1
  1. 1.Mesoscopic DevicesLLCBroomfieldUSA

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