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Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Tech Transfer

In-situ Production of Hydrogen for Buoyancy on Titan, Phase I

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

In-situ Production of Hydrogen for Buoyancy on Titan, Phase I
Based on current observations Titan is believed to have a rich, dense atmosphere. If the findings of the Cassini and Huygens missions corroborate this, the next mission to Saturn is likely to include an autonomous vehicle capable of buoyant flight in its atmosphere. In the absence of oxygen hydrogen is the best choice of a buoyancy gas. Maintaining buoyancy for the duration of the one year mission will require a substantial supply of hydrogen to make-up for gas permeating through the gas bag. This gas can be obtained by reforming the methane, which is abundant in Titan's atmosphere. We propose to reform methane with a plasma reformer. This type of reformer converts methane to hydrogen gas and solid carbon, making separation and disposal of the carbon waste a straight forward process. It requires only methane and electrical power to operate, is tolerant of all impurities, and will reform all of the hydrogen containing materials fed in. Lynntech has already demonstrated this technology in a larger unit. This project will lead to the development of a small unit that operates on a few Watts of power. Methods for harvesting methane and separating the hydrogen and the carbon will also be developed. 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.