Challenges Of Solid Oxide Electrolysis For Production Of Fuel And Oxygen From Mars Atmospheric CO2

Date: November 18, 2015
Time: 3:00‐4:00 p.m
Place: WEB L102
There will be light refreshments afterwards.

Dr. Joseph Hartvigsen is the Senior Engineer for Solid Oxide Fuel Cell, Hydrogen and Synfuels Technologies at Ceramatec, Inc.

A new field of application for solid oxide electrolysis producing fuels from CO2 is emerging in the area of human exploration of Mars. The Martian atmosphere is 96% CO2, making it a prime resource for extraction of oxygen that will be needed by human explorers and for production of the fuel that will be needed for the ascent vehicle to return them to earth. The fundamental operating principles and materials of the Mars in‐situ resource utilization (ISRU) application are no different than the hydrogen and synfuel applications developed in past decades. However there are circumstances of the ISRU application that place challenging constraints on the design and performance that have not been previously encountered in our SOEC development efforts. These issues are outlined and the approaches to address them are presented. Ceramatec is designing and building the SOEC (aka SOXE) stack for the MOXIE instrument on the Mars 2020 mission.

Joseph Hartvigsen is the Senior Engineer for Solid Oxide Fuel Cell, Hydrogen and Synfuels Technologies at Ceramatec, Inc. He is responsible for engineering and analysis aspects of the solid oxide fuel cell, solid oxide electrolysis, reforming, and synthetic fuels research projects at Ceramatec. He is currently the Ceramatec Principal Investigator for the Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment (MOXIE), and a DOE NETL coal to liquids project building a 2 bbl/day Fischer‐Tropsch pilot plant.

He received a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Brigham Young University. He then earned a M.S. in Chemical Engineering from Iowa State University. His M.S. research was performed at Ames Laboratory (DOE), where his research produced a new process for silicon nitride synthesis.

His earlier industrial experience was in the defense aerospace field, with Hercules Aerospace and the Boeing Defense and Space Group. Responsibilities there included thermal, fluids, thermodynamic, and mass transfer analysis of solid rocket propulsion, thermal protection systems for hypersonic aircraft, research on aircraft visual/IR signature reduction (e.g., contrails), splashdown analysis of manned space vehicles, and analysis of manufacturing processes for advanced materials. In 1991 Mr. Hartvigsen joined Ceramatec, and was initially tasked with developing a detailed 3‐D multi‐physics SOFC stack model. His work has led to more than two dozen patents and several dozen publications (including 3 book chapters) related to SOFC systems, fuel processing, interconnect, and cell designs. His current research activities are in plasma reforming, high temperature electrolysis, co‐electrolysis, and Fischer‐Tropsch synthesis, where his project team at Ceramatec has made major advances.

Joe maintains antique Caterpillar tractors, which he uses to raise wheat on 160 acres of his great‐grandparents homestead in Marsh Valley, Idaho. From his home‐based business, he has produced hundreds of micro‐hydro and small‐hydro turbines (50W to 500kW) that are in service around the world. He has served for 9 years on the Governor’s Centers of Excellence Advisory Council, whose objective is to facilitate commercialization of technologies developed at the major research universities within the state of Utah.