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H2/He Separation System, Phase I

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

NASA uses an estimated 75 million standard cubic feet of helium (approximately $5M worth) each year for safely purging hydrogen systems before filling and after discharging, and while leak checking, pressurizing lines and blanketing liquid hydrogen storage tanks. Despite its expense, there is no substitute for helium in most of these applications because of its extremely low boiling point and unique chemical inertness. The price of helium is expected to increase as reserves are drawn down. In addition to helium, the high supply costs and limited availability of hydrogen fuel also requires its conservation. While it is not as expensive as helium and is more abundant, the transport of hydrogen is still costly and poses a great environmental risk due its flammability and highly reactive nature. Therefore, an efficient way to separate the He/H2 from NASA's purge streams and recover both the helium and hydrogen in a pure form is critical to reduce cost of operations and to reduce risks. In Phase I we will synthesize and optimize a new sorbent and develop a process and cycle scheme that will allow us to achieve the target helium and hydrogen purities with low energy consumption. More »

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Primary U.S. Work Locations and Key Partners

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Project Duration

Technology Maturity (TRL)

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