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Gaseous Helium Reclamation at Rocket Test Systems

Award Information

Agency:
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Branch:
N/A
Award ID:
Program Year/Program:
2011 / STTR
Agency Tracking Number:
090082
Solicitation Year:
2009
Solicitation Topic Code:
T10.01
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
Sierra Lobo, Inc.
102 Pinnacle Drive Fremont, OH 43420-2448
View profile »
Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No
 
Phase 2
Fiscal Year: 2011
Title: Gaseous Helium Reclamation at Rocket Test Systems
Agency: NASA
Contract: NNX11CC75C
Award Amount: $599,938.00
 

Abstract:

GHe reclamation is critical in reducing operating costs at rocket engine test facilities. Increases in cost and shortages of helium will dramatically impact testing of rocket engines for launch vehicles and space propulsion systems as the global supply of this non-renewable element diminishes. Extremely large quantities of helium are being used during rocket engine testing each year at various test facilities. It is critical for program successes to minimize developmental and testing costs by reclaiming helium utilized in those programs and, equally important, to preserve this rare element for future generations. Phase I innovative solution efforts have proven the effectiveness of utilizing hydrogen (H2) Proton Exchange Membrane Electrochemical Cell (PEMEC) technology to purify an inert gas stream of helium (He) consisting of hydrogen contaminants in a cost-effective manner. This method allows in-situ, on-site helium re-utilization, returning the helium to cleanliness standards required for rocket engine test facility use. Phase I identified the challenges for dilute hydrogen operation of the PEMEC and provided viable solutions for improved efficiency, which allows the PEMEC's to provide high purity, 99.995% helium. Phase I also identified a possible configuration in which the exit stream of H2 can be added to a fuel cell operating in the galvanic mode to provide power back to the GHe reclamation system. Although Phase II efforts will not utilize that configuration, Phase I verified its feasibility and future system growth potential. Phase II efforts will build upon all the results of Phase I to deliver a fully functional prototype system for further evaluation in an operational environment. Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at the end of Phase I was five (5), while phase II will progress that level to six (6): System/subsystem model or prototype demonstration in a relevant environment.

Principal Investigator:

Mark Haberbusch
Principal Investigator
4194999653
mhaberbusch@sierralobo.com

Business Contact:

Mark Haberbusch
Business Official
4194199653
mhaberbusch@sierralobo.com
Small Business Information at Submission:

Sierra Lobo, Inc.
102 Pinnacle Drive Fremont, OH 43420-2448

EIN/Tax ID: 341759655
DUNS: N/A
Number of Employees:
Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: Yes
HUBZone-Owned: No
Research Institution Information:
University of Hawaii
2530 Dole St., Sakamaki D250
Honolulu, HI 96822-2309
Contact: Jonathan Roberts