The use of lithium fuel with planetary in situ oxidizers

Teri M. Baker, Timothy F. Miller, Michael V. Paul, Jonathan A. Peters

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

2 Scopus citations


An energy storage and power generation system for planetary exploration missions is described in which lithium metal is the fuel. At high enough temperatures, lithium will spontaneously and exothermically react with several planetary atmospheres, such as on Venus, as well as with in situ water that may be present on bodies such as Mars, our own moon, or Jupiter’s watery companion, Europa. This proposed energy source fills a niche for exploration missions in regions where there is little or no access to solar energy, and where integral days of data collection and operation are sufficient for mission success, and which therefore do not require very long-lived and expensive nuclear options. The proposed lithium energy system has a much greater system specific energy than primary battery systems. Like batteries, the proposed energy source does not release any material to contaminate the surrounding area. After an introduction to the proposed technology, an analysis of the thermochemical behavior of the system in CO2 and CO2/ N2 environments is presented. A preliminary proof-of-concept experiment is described, and initial results are presented. Suggestions for follow-on work are given.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication10th Symposium on Space Resource Utilization, 2017
PublisherAmerican Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Inc, AIAA
ISBN (Print)9781624104541
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017
Event10th Symposium on Space Resource Utilization, 2017 - Grapevine, United States
Duration: Jan 9 2017Jan 13 2017

Publication series

Name10th Symposium on Space Resource Utilization, 2017


Other10th Symposium on Space Resource Utilization, 2017
Country/TerritoryUnited States

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Aerospace Engineering


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