Bioenergy, Solar

NASA Grant Sustains Hydrogen Research in Florida

Funding totaling $7.4 million for another year of hydrogen research under way in seven Florida universities was granted by NASA this week, bringing the full amount for the four-year project to more than $30.3 million. More than 70 research projects on hydrogen production, safety, storage, cryogenics, and fuel cells keep Florida at the forefront of the technology.

“NASA’s decision to continue funding for this project is exciting news for all of us who drive vehicles here on earth as well as the people flying into space,” said M.J. Soileau, vice president for research and commercialization at the University of Central Florida (UCF). The program supports ongoing work at UCF’s Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC), which leads the program’s effort, and at UCF and the University of Florida, which co-manage the program. The other participating institutions are Florida International University, Florida State University, Florida A&M University, the University of South Florida and the University of West Florida. FSEC research so far has developed a “smart paint” that reveals hydrogen leaks in tanks and other locations by changing color; provided laboratory success in extracting hydrogen from landfill gas as well as producing hydrogen from used lube oil; employed cryogenics to densify hydrogen so that smaller amounts of fuel can be used on the space shuttle, which will allow larger payloads; and implemented the use of metal hydrides for storage and purification, a research success that will have direct implications in future vehicles on earth. The hydrogen research also supports the space industry in Florida, home to the Space Shuttles at the NASA Kennedy Space Center and commercial and military spacecraft at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.