Sustainable Innovations (SI) has delivered a hydrogen (H2) recovery and compression system to America’s space agency NASA.

SI’s hydrogen-based energy conservation system (HECS) will be used to recover H2 from waste streams at NASA Stennis Space Centre (SSC) in Mississippi, US.

The first-of-its-kind, solid state system is designed to recover H2 released from cryogenic storage or to separate H2 from helium (He) used in rocket test operations.

The fully integrated system uses a proprietary electrochemical process developed by SI which can purify and compress recovered H2 to commercial storage pressures. The gas can then be reused in other end-user applications.

Components of the system were designed as a modular building block for a scaled-up system to reclaim and compress large amounts of the wasted gases.

Major consumer

NASA is a major consumer of both Hand He, using more than 188 tonnes of cold liquid H2 per shuttle rocket flight and up to 100 million cubic feet of He per year, mainly to purge H2 fuelling lines after firing rocket engines. The HECS recovers the H2 fuel and separates and recaptures He gas.

SI’s H2 compression system is part of its H2RENEWTM product line, based on electrochemical systems that separate and compress H2 for industrial applications such as specialty metals and semiconductor processing.

The heart of the SI electrochemical H2 compression system is a proton exchange membrane (PEM) platform technology.