An AI chemist has successfully created a catalyst to produce oxygen from Martian meteorites.
Migrate to and live there Mars They are often themes in science fiction. Before these dreams become a reality, humanity faces major challenges, such as the scarcity of vital resources such as oxygen needed for long-term survival on the Red Planet. However, recent discoveries of water activity on Mars have raised new hope for overcoming these obstacles.
Scientists are now exploring the possibility of decomposing water to produce oxygen through solar-driven electrochemical water oxidation with the help of oxygen evolution reaction (OER) catalysts. The challenge is to find a way to manufacture these catalysts on site using materials found on Mars, rather than transporting them from Earth, which is expensive.
Advances in artificial intelligence and Martian chemistry
To address this problem, a team led by Professor Luo Yi, Professor Jiang Jun, and Professor Shang Weiwei from the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) recently managed to make this possible. To automatically collect and optimize OER catalysts from Martian meteorites using automated chemical artificial intelligence (AI).
Their research, in collaboration with the Deep Space Exploration Laboratory, was recently published in the journal Synthesis of nature.
“The AI-based chemist innovatively synthesizes the OER catalyst using Martian materials based on interdisciplinary collaboration,” said Professor Luo Yi, senior scientist on the team.
In each experimental session, the AI chemist first analyzes the elemental composition of Martian ores using laser-induced spectroscopy (LIBS) as his eyes. Next, a series of pre-treatments are performed on the ores, including weighing in the solids distribution workstation, preparing feedstock solutions in the liquid dispensing workstation, liquid separation in the centrifuge workstation, and solidification in the dryer workstation.
An AI robotic chemist creates useful oxygen-generating catalysts using Martian meteorites. Credit: AI-Chemist Group at University of Science and Technology of China
The resulting metal hydroxides are treated with Nafion adhesive to prepare the working electrode for OER testing in the electrochemical workstation. Test data is sent to the AI chemist's computational “brain” in real time Machine learning (ml) Processing.
The AI chemist's “brain” uses quantum chemistry and molecular dynamics simulations of 30,000 high-entropy hydroxides with different elemental ratios and calculates their OER catalytic activities via density functional theory. Simulation data are used to train a neural network model to quickly predict the activities of stimuli with different elemental compositions.
Finally, through Bayesian optimization, the “brain” predicts the mix of available Martian ores needed to manufacture the optimal OER catalyst.
Achieving a breakthrough in oxygen production
So far, the AI chemist has created an excellent catalyst using five types of Martian meteorites under unmanned conditions. This stimulator can operate stably for more than 550,000 seconds at a current density of 10 mA cm-2 And an overpower of 445.1 mV. Another test at -37°C, the temperature on Mars, confirmed that the catalyst could produce oxygen stably without any obvious degradation.
Within two months, the AI chemist completed a complex catalyst optimization process that would take a human chemist 2,000 years.
The team is working to transform the artificial intelligence-based chemist into a general experimentation platform for various chemical compositions without human intervention. The reviewer of the paper strongly noted: “This type of research is of widespread interest and subject to rapid development in the synthesis and discovery of organic/inorganic materials.”
“In the future, humans could set up an oxygen factory on Mars with the help of an AI chemist,” Jiang said. Only 15 hours of solar radiation are needed to produce the sufficient oxygen concentration needed for human survival. He said: “This advanced technology brings us one step closer to achieving our dream of living on Mars.”
Reference: “Automated synthesis of oxygen-producing catalysts from Martian meteorites by an AI robotic chemist” by Qing Zhou, Yan Huang, Donglai Zhou, Luyuan Zhao, Lulu Guo, Ruyu Yang, Zexu Sun, Man Lu, Fei Zhang, Hengyu Xiao, Shen Sheng Tang, Shuchun Zhang, Tao Song, Xiang Li, Baochun Zhong, Johnny Zhu, Yihan Zhang, Baicheng Zhang, Jiaqi Cao, Guozhen Zhang, Song Wang, Guilin Yi, Wangjun Zhang, Haitao Zhao, Shuang Cong, Huirong Li, Li- Li Ling, Zhi Zhang, Yue Zhang, Jun Jiang, and Yi Lu, November 13, 2023, Synthesis of nature.
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