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Gaseous Helium Reclamation at Rocket Test Systems, Phase I

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

Gaseous Helium Reclamation at Rocket Test Systems, Phase I
The ability to restore large amounts of vented gaseous helium (GHe) at rocket test sites preserves the GHe and reduces operating cost. The used GHe is vented into the atmosphere, is non-recoverable, and costs NASA millions dollars per year. Helium, which is non-renewable and irreplaceable once released into the atmosphere, is continuously consumed by rocket test facilities at NASA centers such as KSC, SSC, and CCAFS at a rate of more than 6.6 Mscf per year. This use is projected to increase to more than 10 Mscf by the year 2018, assuming the same inefficient and costly operating procedures and facilities continue to be used. Given the decrease in the world's supply of helium, NASA is heading toward to an economic, operational, and programmatic disaster. New and highly innovative approaches are required to drive down launch operation life cycle costs. Scaling-up of existing systems to meet an increased demand of helium is not an option. Our team, Sierra Lobo, Inc. and University of Hawaii at Manao, proposes the use of PEM fuel cells to remove most of the impure oxygen and hydrogen in the helium gas stream. The small traces of oxygen and hydrogen impurities in the GHe will be removed by cryo-separation using commercial cryocoolers. More »

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This is a historic project that was completed before the creation of TechPort on October 1, 2012. Available data has been included. This record may contain less data than currently active projects.