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Center Innovation Fund: SSC CIF

Large Propellant Tank Cryo-Cooler (LPTC)

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

In rocket test and launch facilities, cryogenic propellants stored in tanks boils off due to heat leakage, with the following impacts:

Ø   Waste, propellants boil off & requires replacement

Ø   Concentrates impurities which do not boil off

Ø  Imposes a thermal cycle on their finite service life

Boil-off of is currently managed by purchasing more propellants; adaption of cryogenic-cooler technology will reduce heat buildup in the storage tanks thereby reducing boil-off, impurities and increasing life expectancy.  In laboratory settings, cryogenic-coolers are used to minimize boil-off from dewars containing cryogens, however there is nothing available off-the-shelf that is designed for large cryogenic storage tanks located at present day launch and test facilities.

The goal of this project is the development of a design concept that adapts scalable off-the-shelf cryogenic-cooler technology required for test and launch facility cryogenic-storage tanks, while optionally powering the system with off the grid electricity or solar energy in order to eliminate propellant boil-off.  The development of this technology would save money spent on rocket engine testing at test facilities and on ground operations at launch facilities for propellant purchases, operations, maintenance, and problems associated with impurities in propellant stores, therefore enabling access to space by making it less expensive.

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