Making plastics on Mars
In 2016, Emerging Futures, LLC was hired by Opus 12, Inc. to help them develop a NASA-sponsored concept for converting raw materials on Mars (carbon dioxide and water) into useful materials such as rocket propellant and, especially, plastic. The final result was a preliminary design for a device that produced high-density polyethylene (HDPE), a common type of plastic with many desirable properties. The full-scale device is capable of producing 9 kg/day of HPDE, along with sufficient methane and oxygen to refuel a human Mars ascent vehicle in 480 days. While the work was completed in 2018, CEO Jeff Greenblatt presented these results for the first time at the 10th joint session of the Space Resources Roundtable and Planetary and Terrestrial Mining Symposium, held June 11-14, 2019 in Golden, CO.
You can download the final report here.