NASA Grant Continues Hydrogen Research

The Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC), has been awarded a US$4.95 million continuation of its hydrogen research grant from NASA Glenn Research Center, bringing its total award to US$10.4 million. NASA has awarded a total of US$15.5 million to Florida’s universities for research and development in hydrogen technologies. The grant is co-managed by NASA’s Glenn Research Center and Kennedy Space Center.

Cocoa, Florida – July 11, 2003 [] This hydrogen research program supports the development of future space propellants and more efficient space launch activities. Analysis of space launch processes by university researchers indicates that there are three major areas of potential savings. Researchers continue to examine each of these areas: – Densified propellants – Since densified propellants enable more cryogenic propellant to be packed into a given volume, their use yields the potential for greater payload capacity. Assuming a launch cost of about US$4,000-10,000 per pound, this weight savings translates into a cost savings of US$20 million – US$50 million for each launch. -Local hydrogen production – The annual cost for trucking the hydrogen needed for launches from Louisiana to the Kennedy Space Center is US$2 million. Producing hydrogen locally would totally eliminate these transportation costs. -Recapture of boil-off – At the launch site, 400,000 gallons of liquid hydrogen is lost because of storage boil-off and transfer. Research to capture boil-off and improve transport technologies can save an additional US$500,000. The program teams Florida’s university researchers with research facilities NASA Glenn and NASA Kennedy. The Florida Solar Energy Center/UCF is teamed with a consortium of university partners, including University of Florida, Florida International University, Florida State University, University of South Florida, and University of West Florida, in addition to Florida Space Research Institute. NASA’s grant to Florida Solar Energy Center and its partner universities provides for research and development in hydrogen technologies to support NASA’s efforts to produce hydrogen more efficiently and at lower cost. The six state universities have initiated 56 research projects to develop these technologies. “This research grant has provided the thrust to initiate a major cooperative research effort among Florida’s state universities,” David Block, FSEC’s Director Emeritus said. “It utilizes their combined expertise to benefit both NASA in its space launch activities and the State of Florida as its evolving hydrogen economy develops.”

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