Cryogen boil-off reduced with new bulk-fill insulation


An interesting new choice of bulk-fill insulation for cryogenic tanks could be on the horizon as a widespread commercial alternative, with research suggesting that costly cryogen boil-offs could be reduced.

Tiny glass bubbles, like fine powder and only 65 microns in size, have been developed as a result of a partnership between researchers at the Kennedy Space Centre (KSC), 3M, and Technology Applications Inc. (TAI).

The collaborative project began in 2000 and tested the glass bubbles as bulk-fill insulation for cryogenic tanks. Since then, research has suggested that the material is unmatched in preventing costly cryogen boil-off in large-sized tanks.

September 2008 saw the glass bubbles installed in a 50,000 gallon liquid hydrogen tank at the Stennis Space Centre (SSC), replacing the previous perlite insulation – with considerable cost saving achieved, due to reduced boil-off. In the last four months alone, cost savings have hovered around the 50% range.

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