FindAPhD Weekly PhD Newsletter | JOIN NOW FindAPhD Weekly PhD Newsletter | JOIN NOW

Development of All-in-One In-situ Resource Utilisation System for Crewed Mars Exploration Missions

   Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences

   Saturday, December 31, 2022  Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Supervisory Team:   Min Kwan Kim (95%) / C. William Keevil (5%)

Project description

This PhD project aims to develop an all-in-one in-situ resource utilisation system for future crewed Mars exploration missions and explore the feasibility of using non-thermal plasma for removing biological and chemical contaminants in extracted system water from Mars and generating oxygen and rocket fuel from Martian atmosphere. The unique capability of non-thermal plasma in producing active species is bringing emerging attention in the context of promising applications in water treatment/purification and carbon dioxide capturing/decomposing.

Securing water, oxygen, and fuel is one of the key technical challenges in long duration space missions because they are crucial to keep astronauts alive and ensure a safe journey to our home planet, Earth. However, it is not feasible to carry all required amounts of these resources for the entire duration of the mission. Moreover, the resupply missions for these resources are very expensive. In-situ resource utilisation (ISRU), therefore, is the only viable option for future crewed missions to explore and pioneer the planet Mars.

In this project, the candidate will develop a novel all-in-one ISRU system using non-thermal plasma. Although Mars has water trapped in the polar ice caps and the beneath the surface of Mars, water extracted from the Martian surface/underground cannot be used directly because it can contain organic contaminants, bacteria, and viruses of known and unknown origins. Previously, the University of Southampton has developed a plasma micro-bubble water reactor which can remove the 99.8% of chemical contaminants and achieve 8-log reduction against biological contaminants without using any filters and disinfectants. In addition, non-thermal plasma can be used to dissociate CO2 thus utilising rocket fuel and oxygen from Martian atmosphere. This PhD project, therefore, will provide a sustainable solution to utilising resources for future crewed Mars missions exploring the unknown areas on Mars.

The project will closely collaborate with the School of Biological Science at the Faculty of Environmental and Life Science. Through this PhD project, the candidate will have a unique interdisciplinary research opportunity on investigating advanced plasma technologies which can introduce a paradigm shift in future space missions.

If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please contact Dr Minkwan Kim (email: / Tel: +44 (0)23 8059 2716).

Entry Requirements

The ideal candidate should have a first-class degree in a general Engineering area (Mechanical, Aerospace, Chemical etc) or Applied Mathematics.

Closing date: applications should be received no later than 31 December 2022 for standard admissions, but later applications may be considered depending on the funds remaining in place.

Funding: UK level tuition fees and provides an annual tax-free stiped at the standard EPSRC rate, which is £17,668 for 2022/23, for up to 3.5 years

How To Apply

Applications should be made online. Select programme type (Research), 2022/23, Faculty of Physical Sciences and Engineering, next page select “PhD Engineering & Environment (Full time)”. In Section 2 of the application form you should insert the name of the supervisor Min Kwan Kim

Applications should include:

Curriculum Vitae

Two reference letters

Degree Transcripts to date

Apply online:

For further information please contact:

How good is research at University of Southampton in Engineering?

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

Email Now

Search Suggestions
Search suggestions

Based on your current searches we recommend the following search filters.

PhD saved successfully
View saved PhDs