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Water Electrolysis GH2/GO2 Stochiometric Rocket Development

Award Information

Department of Defense
Missile Defense Agency
Award ID:
Program Year/Program:
2001 / SBIR
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
Busek Co. Inc.
11 Tech Circle Natick, MA 01760-1023
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Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No
Phase 1
Fiscal Year: 2001
Title: Water Electrolysis GH2/GO2 Stochiometric Rocket Development
Agency / Branch: DOD / MDA
Contract: NAS3-01148
Award Amount: $65,000.00


Water is one of the most important commodities in space. It is a life sustaining fluid, a propellant and an energy storage media in regenerative fuel cell (RFC) systems. Because of these attributes, water based power generation and propulsion conceptsare receiving increased attention. However, despite a substantial effort, the technology of long life, efficient, stoichiometric GH2/GO2, low thrust engines (LTE) continues to present significant challenge. The principle reason is that thestate-of-the-art material for LTE's - rhenium (Re) coated with iridium (or Ir oxide), is inadequate for the stochiometric, highly oxidizing, H2/O2 flame. Another challenge is the method and reliability of ignition. To answer these challenges Busekproposes a low thrust, high performance stochiometric H2/O2 rocket development. In Phase I our focus will be synthesis and testing of novel chamber materials that have their heritage in ballistic missile reentry heat shields and have been successfullytested under relevant conditions. We will construct a small, GH2/GO2 combustion chamber and use it as test bed for our materials, with Re/Ir coupon as a reference sample. To ensure relevance to the electrolyzer or RFC based systems, Giner Inc., a wellknow fuel cell company with advanced electrolyzer technology, will be our consultant.The next milestone in the development of space is the establishment of space-based infrastructure, which includes on-orbit maintenance and refueling. Water, because ofits broad applicability, is expected to be stored in large on-orbit fueling stations where commercial and military spacecraft will periodically dock and refuel. Should this visionary scenario, promoted by DARPA materialize, the commercial market, forwater-based propulsion is enormous. Aside of this market commercial satellites may adopt water just for the reduction in spacecraft fueling cost and reduction in health and environmental threat posed by the highly toxic propellants used today.

Principal Investigator:

K. Hohman
Research Engineer

Business Contact:

J. Budny
Contracts Administrator
Small Business Information at Submission:

11 Tech Circle Natick, MA 01760

EIN/Tax ID: 042881247
Number of Employees:
Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No