Gaseous Helium Reclamation at Rocket Test Systems

Award Information
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Branch: N/A
Contract: NNX10CF81P
Agency Tracking Number: 090082
Amount: $100,000.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: STTR
Awards Year: 2010
Solicitation Year: 2009
Solicitation Topic Code: T10.01
Solicitation Number: N/A
Small Business Information
Sierra Lobo, Inc.
426 Croghan Street, Fremont, OH, 43420-2448
DUNS: 928298983
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: Y
Principal Investigator
 Mark Haberbusch
 Principal Investigator
 (419) 499-9653
 mhaberbusch@sierralobo.com
Business Contact
 Mark Haberbusch
Title: Director of Research/Technolog
Phone: (419) 499-9653
Email: mhaberbusch@sierralobo.com
Research Institution
 University of Hawaii
 Not Available
 2530 Dole Street, Sakamaki D-200
Honolulu, HI, 96822
 (808) 956-8890
 Domestic nonprofit research organization
Abstract
The ability to restore large amounts of vented gaseous helium (GHe) at rocket test sites preserves the GHe and reduces operating cost. The used GHe is vented into the atmosphere, is non-recoverable, and costs NASA millions dollars per year. Helium, which is non-renewable and irreplaceable once released into the atmosphere, is continuously consumed by rocket test facilities at NASA centers such as KSC, SSC, and CCAFS at a rate of more than 6.6 Mscf per year. This use is projected to increase to more than 10 Mscf by the year 2018, assuming the same inefficient and costly operating procedures and facilities continue to be used. Given the decrease in the world's supply of helium, NASA is heading toward to an economic, operational, and programmatic disaster. New and highly innovative approaches are required to drive down launch operation life cycle costs. Scaling-up of existing systems to meet an increased demand of helium is not an option. Our team, Sierra Lobo, Inc. and University of Hawaii at Manao, proposes the use of PEM fuel cells to remove most of the impure oxygen and hydrogen in the helium gas stream. The small traces of oxygen and hydrogen impurities in the GHe will be removed by cryo-separation using commercial cryocoolers.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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