Over the last decade, GTL has been developing a breakthrough technology for cryogenic propellant storage that has been demonstrated to provide 75% mass reduction compared to state-of-the-art cryotanks. GTL recently demonstrated the performance and mass advantage of BHL technology with the design, fabrication and testing of a 4-ft diameter, high-pressure, lightweight, all-composite spherical cryotank. Based on the results of the previous effort, this tank should be capable of meeting NASA’s requirements.
In this Phase I, GTL will perform a series of tests to address data gaps and mature the BHL technology towards TRL 6 for in-space applications using liquid oxygen (LOX) and liquid methane (LCH4). These tests include expanded liquid oxygen compatibility testing, Helium permeation tests, and tests to measure the leak-tight strain margin. These results will be used to refine the BHL cryotank design and guide the development of the Phase II plan.
It is envisioned that the Phase II effort would include cryo-thermal pressure cycle testing a BHL cryotank with liquid oxygen after completing the oxygen compatibility verification tests. Another BHL cryotank will be cycled at very high strain levels to validate leak-tight strain margin. At the conclusion of the Phase II effort, GTL will fabricate a BHL cryotank for flight testing in a follow-on effort.
Achieving TRL 6 with BHL cryotank technology would accelerate the adoption of this game-changing technology, thereby enhancing NASA’s space mission capabilities.
BHL cryotank technology has broad NASA application, especially those applications using cryogenic propellants. These include Launch vehicles, orbit transfer vehicles, the Lunar Gateway, lunar landers, Mars landers, and in-space propellant depots. When validated for LH2 use, BHL cryotanks could also be used for nuclear electric propulsion systems. Variations of the BHL technology could be used for non-propulsion pressure vessels, such as space habitats.
Non-NASA applications include DoD launch vehicles, hypersonic boosters, and missile interceptors. Commercial applications include launch vehicles and commercial space mining operations. BHL can also be used for terrestrial liquid natural gas transportation.