The Evonik hydrogenation catalyst was developed with Airbus for use in the ACLS.
The Evonik hydrogenation catalyst was developed with Airbus for use in the ACLS.

A hydrogenation catalyst, jointly developed by Evonik and Airbus, will play an important part in the Sabatier reactor which will be used on the International Space Station (ISS).

The Sabatier reactor is an important part of the life support system called the Advanced Closed Loop System (ACLS) which was recently installed on the ISS by Commander Alexander Gerst and is now being tested.

The ACLS was developed by Airbus for the European Space Agency (ESA) to ensure an efficient life support system on the ISS. It can remove exhaled carbon dioxide from the air whilst generating oxygen and about 40% of the fresh water required on board. This significantly reduces the amount of water which needs to be transported from Earth.

The system should be fully operational on the ISS in early 2019 and it is the Sabatier reactor which converts carbon dioxide and hydrogen into methane and water. The oxygen needed for breathing is then obtained by electrolysis of the water produced. To make the reaction of carbon dioxide and hydrogen possible, a hydrogenation catalyst is necessary.

Evonik developed its catalyst with Airbus for special application in the ACLS and it was prepared for use in the ISS in a multi-year qualification. It is a high-performance catalyst that has high stress resistance and reliably delivers the required activity over a long period of time.