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Photocatalytic production of organic compounds from CO and H2O in a simulated Martian atmosphere

Hubbard, Jerry S. and Hardy, James P. and Horowitz, N. H. (1971) Photocatalytic production of organic compounds from CO and H2O in a simulated Martian atmosphere. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 68 (3). pp. 574-578. ISSN 0027-8424. http://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechAUTHORS:HUBpnas71

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Abstract

[14C]CO2 and [14C]organic compounds are formed when a mixture of [14C]CO and water vapor diluted in [12C]CO2 or N2 is irradiated with ultraviolet light in the presence of soil or pulverized vycor substratum. The [14C]CO2 is recoverable from the gas phase, the [14C]organic products from the substratum. Three organic products have been tentatively identified as formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, and glycolic acid. The relative yields of [14C]CO2 and [14C]organics are wavelength- and surface-dependent. Conversion of CO to CO2 occurs primarily at wavelengths shorter than 2000 angstrom, apparently involves the photolysis of water, and is inhibited by increasing amounts of vycor substratum. Organic formation occurs over a broad spectral range below 3000 angstrom and increases with increasing amounts of substratum. It is suggested that organic synthesis results from adsorption of CO and H2O on surfaces, with excitation of one or both molecules occurring at wavelengths longer than those absorbed by the free gases. This process may occur on Mars and may have been important on the primitive earth.


Item Type:Article
Additional Information:Copyright © 1971 by the National Academy of Sciences. Communicated December 31, 1970. We thank Frank Morelli for his excellent technical assistance and Dr. W. DeMore for his interest and helpful criticism. We are also grateful to Dr. L. D. G. Young for permission to cite her results before publication and to Profs. G. S. Hammond and G. W. Robinson for comments on the manuscript. This paper presents the results of one phase of research carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under Contract No. NAS 7-100, sponsored by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:HUBpnas71
Persistent URL:http://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechAUTHORS:HUBpnas71
Alternative URL:http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/abstract/68/3/574
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:1423
Collection:CaltechAUTHORS
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:18 Jan 2006
Last Modified:26 Dec 2012 08:44

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