Lift Gas Cracker

Award Information
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Branch: N/A
Contract: NNG04CA07C
Agency Tracking Number: 024102
Amount: $599,927.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2004
Solicitation Year: N/A
Solicitation Topic Code: N/A
Solicitation Number: N/A
Small Business Information
Pioneer Astronautics
11111 W. 8th Avenue, Unit A, Lakewood, CO, 80215
DUNS: 120561456
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Robert Zubrin
 Principal Investigator
 (303) 980-0890
 zubrin@aol.com
Business Contact
 Robert Zubrin
Title: Business Official
Phone: (303) 980-0890
Email: zubrin@aol.com
Research Institution
N/A
Abstract
The Lift Gas Cracker (LGC) is a new method for extending the duration of high-altitude scientific balloon flights and for enabling the launch of balloons from remote locations. The LGC produces balloon lift gas by catalytic reforming of methanol to generate hydrogen plus some carbon monoxide and/or carbon dioxide. Pioneer Astronautics prototyped and characterized an LGC system during Phase I. The LGC was demonstrated as a portable lift gas generator for launching meteorological and scientific balloons from remote locations where high-pressure helium is not available. Based on favorable mission analyses conducted during Phase I, the LGC as a method for extending the duration of high-altitude scientific balloon flights will be developed under Phase II. The LGC would operate with an auxiliary buoyancy-control balloon. The LGC produces lift gas by catalytic reforming of methanol at night. During the day, some of the lift gas (predominantly hydrogen) is burned with atmospheric air to produce water. The water ballast can be dropped or can be recycled to the LGC for steam reforming to generate lift gas the following night. These techniques can triple the duration of high-altitude flights compared to conventional methods of dropping ballast at night and venting gas during the day.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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