You are here

  1. Home
  2. Facilities
  3. Environmental Simulations
  4. Flow-through Sub-surface Reactors

Flow-through Sub-surface Reactors

Parr Flow Through Reactor

The AstrobiologyOU flow-through reactors are used to study both abiotic and biotic processes within the sub-surface environments of Mars and the icy moons, for example Europa and Enceladus. The flow-through capability allows fluid to continuous flow into the reactor, mimicking an open system, which is more realistic to the natural environment.


The two reactors have been developed to study: 1) the martian sub-surface (MMS reactor); and 2) the ocean floor of the Icy Moons, e.g., Europa and Enceladus (IM reactor). The reactors can be run in dynamic (flow-through) or static mode with variable water-to-rock ratios. The overall set-up of the two systems is identical and involves a high-pressure reactor (Parr Instrument Company, UK) connected to a fluid cycling system and gas inlet, housed within a heating jacket. Abiotic and biotic experiments are routinely run in parallel, with microorganisms added to simulate biotic processes. For more information about the facilities see Olsson-Francis et al., (2020).


The standard specifications of both the martian sub-surface (MSS reactor) and the ocean floor of the icy moons (IM reactor) are shown below:

  MSS reactor IM reactor
Specification of the reactor    
Model 4566-T-FMD1(HC)-HC-230-VS.125-3000-4848-A1925E4-CE(PED) 4545-T-FMD1-SS-230-VS.125-WJ-5000-A2110E-CE(PED)
Volume 300 ml 600 ml
Composition Alloy C276 /316 SS T316 Stainless Steel
Max and min temperature Ambient to 350 °C -20 to + 150 °Ca
Max and min pressure 0 to 6.9 MPa 0 to 34.5 MPa
Gas headspace    
Composition 10% CO₂ 40% H₂ 50% N₂ 10% CO₂ 40% H₂ 50% N₂
Regulator Air Products R302 Druva SS/1G SE(N6)
Composition Polyetherketone /Alloy C276 /316 SS Polyetherketone/316 SS

a Depending on the pressure


For all enquiries please visit our Contact page

Funding to visit and utilise this facility is available through Europlanet 2024.

Europlanet 2024 RI has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 871149