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Applications: Hydrogen-Helium Separation

Test Firing of Rocket Engine at NASA Stennis Space Center

Sustainable Innovations’ H2RENEW™ can be used to economically separate hydrogen from helium, thereby improving the economics of producing helium from lower quality reserves. Helium is a by-product of natural gas production and is currently an expensive commodity due to short supply. Reduced value helium resources are currently under development. Crude helium separated from natural gas contains 50-70% helium, 1-3% methane, small quantities of hydrogen and neon, and the balance nitrogen. Crude helium must be purified in a multi-stage process involving several separation phases to reach the required purity for use in intended helium applications. H2RENEW™ can separate hydrogen from helium, which is important since the liquefaction temperatures of these two gases are similar.

Sustainable Innovations’ Hydrogen Recovery System (HRS), developed for NASA Stennis Space Center (SSC), separates, purifies, and recycles hydrogen and helium gas currently combusted and/or released into the atmosphere. The HRS leverages the system architecture of the H2RENEW™. NASA’s rocket testing programs consume large quantities of hydrogen and helium annually. Hydrogen is used in its liquid form as rocket fuel. However, onsite storage of liquid hydrogen results in large losses each year from cryogenic boil off. Helium is used extensively as a purge gas in conjunction with hydrogen handling to ensure oxygen free lines. Currently all cryogenic hydrogen boil-off and helium purge gas is sent to flare stacks to be combusted/vented. Effective purification, separation and recycling of the hydrogen and helium is highly beneficial to NASA to reduce costs and conserve limited domestic helium resources.