Driving the study of chemistry in Space. Identifying new chemistry solutions towards furthering long duration space flight and exploration. The creation of technologies, processes, and standards towards performing chemistry in primarily microgravity environments. Enabling new chemistry-based inventions that contribute to the economy. Educating and communicating with public policy makers and the general public about the importance of chemical research to further developments through space research.
Flow chemistry is the most advanced branch of synthesis chemistry and amenable to both automation and synthesis under zero gravity and other harsh conditions. Flow chemistry is performed by mixing two or more liquid/gas reagents under heating or cooling or under pressure in a tubular reactor producing a continuous flow. The advantages of flow chemistry are: the lack of the mixing problems occurring during the batch chemistry, therefore, this method provides opportunity to the reproducible chemistry experimentation. This method can be fully automated and remote controlled, reactions can be performed on very small scale reducing the hazardous nature of a reaction, multiple reactions and purification steps can be combined to create complex molecules from simple building blocks in one continuous stream. A good summary on space chemistry as a newborn scientific field is published last year in Nature.
Jones, R.; Darvas, F.; Janáky, C. Rev. Chem. 2017, 1, article number: 0055
Sipos, G.; Bihari, T., Milánkovich, D.; Darvas, F. Flow Chem. 2017, 7, 151–156
- Operates under microgravity
- Amenable to miniaturization
- Amenable to full robotic operation: fully automated and remote controlled
- Safe and precise control of parameters
- Higher temperature and pressure
- Efficient mixing, reproducible chemistry experimentation: reactions can be performed on very small scale reducing the hazardous nature of a reaction, multiple reactions and purification steps can be combined to create complex molecules from simple building blocks in one continuous stream.
Research and Technology Interest
The research and technology interests of the Space Studio are wholly centered on extending the boundaries of chemistry to enable new discoveries that meet the needs of industry and benefit humankind. The Space Studio incorporates an interdisciplinary community, uniting engineers from different fields, scientists investigating both the micro-scale (biochemists), and macro-scale (space scientists). The harmonized work of the above mentioned experts will result in outstanding achievements that are likely to have a global impact and interest.
What has chemistry done so far?
- Through astronomy using spectroscopy chemical composition of various heavenly bodies was determined.
- Chemistry made possible the determination of soil on the Moon and Mars.
- Special structural materials were created for space probes.
- Rocket fuels and compatible oxidizers were developed.
- Research and technology interest within the Division
- Active use of the unique conditions of space (microgravity environment, high intensity UV, vacuum, low temperature as examples) for chemical reactions.
- Profiting from the unique discoveries of other fields related to space sciences.
- Combining and adapting reactors, analytical, and purification systems towards performing chemistry safely in space.
- To develop the ability to conduct experiments in space locally or remotely from Earth.
- To standardize all aspects of a chemistry laboratory for operation in space.
- Research into prolonging manned space missions through chemical conversion of waste products to useful and essential materials.
- Generation of on-demand pharmaceuticals and other chemicals in space.
- Utilization of natural resources on alien planets towards colonization.
Current and future focuses
- Exploration of chemistry to be performed using the extremities of space.
- Drug on demand synthesis in a microgravity environment.
- Methods for conversion of CO2 to useful materials for long term space travel and colonization.
- Development of technologies for synthesis, purification, and analysis of chemicals in a microgravity environment.
International Collaboration: Space Chemistry Consortium
In 2014, researchers realized the importance of the emerging field of space chemistry. To tackle the challenges and opportunities, the Flow Chemistry Society established the Space Chemistry Project, a 40-membered consortium for academic experts, industry innovators, and decisionmakers from the top pharma and other chemistry and life-science firms from 4 continents. The worldwide network is constantly growing as space opens new routes for chemistry. The consortium envisions to enable the routine practice of chemical synthesis in outer space to benefit humanity.