NASA STTR 2009 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 09-1 T10.01-9918
PROPOSAL TITLE: Gaseous Helium Reclamation at Rocket Test Systems

NAME: Sierra Lobo, Inc. NAME: University of Hawaii
STREET: 426 Croghan Street STREET: 2530 Dole St., Sakamaki D-200
CITY: Fremont CITY: Honolulu
STATE/ZIP: OH  43420 - 2448 STATE/ZIP: HI  96822 - 2309
PHONE: (419) 499-9653 PHONE: (808) 956-8890

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Mark S Haberbusch
426 Croghan Street
Fremont, OH 43420 - 2448
(419) 499-9653

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 4
End: 5

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
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.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Application of this technology would significantly reduce the loss of gaseous helium and maintain the availability of quantities of commodities (GHe) at low cost for future launch service and test sites at NASA centers. The proposed technology recovers vented GHe and will save NASA millions of dollars in terms of operating cost and improving the operating efficiency. Another potential NASA application is to generate power and water using fuel-cell-powered impurity reactant with inner helium gas on Lunar surface landing vehicles efficiently. The Lunar landing vehicle consists of a great amount of residual oxygen and hydrogen in the propellant tanks pressurized with gaseous helium. The current design concept is to use residual oxygen and hydrogen to power the fuel cell to generate electrical power and water. The fuel cell used in the Lunar surface landing vehicle shows significant reduction in performance if reactants (O2/H2) consist of inner gas helium. Success of the proposed technology eliminates the limitation of fuel cells operating with helium gas impurity reactants.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Sierra Lobo, Inc.'s proposed technology of using PEM fuel cells to purify helium will directly benefit other government agencies and private company space missions. The success of the proposed technology will be implemented at launch pads and test facilities, which will result in saving millions of dollars in cost of helium while lowering costs in launch services and in operation. The non-NASA governments agencies that will benefit from the technology application are the Department of Energy (DOE) and Department of Defend (DoD). Private companies that will benefit from the technology application are major launch providers and vehicle developers such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, ATK, and Pratt & Whitney.

NASA's technology taxonomy has been developed by the SBIR-STTR program to disseminate awareness of proposed and awarded R/R&D in the agency. It is a listing of over 100 technologies, sorted into broad categories, of interest to NASA.

Fluid Storage and Handling
In-situ Resource Utilization
Renewable Energy

Form Generated on 09-18-09 10:14