The building blocks of hydrocarbons, Hydrogen and Carbon, are readily available on Mars. Carbon Dioxide is the major component of the atmosphere. Water from the surface of Mars can be split through electrolysis. These building blocks are assembled through various chemical reactions.
Production of methane is possible via the Sabatier reaction:
- CO2 + 4H2 ↔ CH4 + 2H2O
Carbon monoxide can be produced via the Reverse Water-Gas Shift Reaction:
- CO2 + H2 → CO + H2O (deltaH = +9 kcal/mole)
The Fischer-Tropsch reaction converts hydrogen and carbon monoxide into various hydrocarbons.
'n' is any positive number.