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Conceptual study of on orbit production of cryogenic propellants by water electrolysisThe feasibility is assessed of producing cryogenic propellants on orbit by water electrolysis in support of NASA's proposed Space Exploration Initiative (SEI) missions. Using this method, water launched into low earth orbit (LEO) would be split into gaseous hydrogen and oxygen by electrolysis in an orbiting propellant processor spacecraft. The resulting gases would then be liquified and stored in cryogenic tanks. Supplying liquid hydrogen and oxygen fuel to space vehicles by this technique has some possible advantages over conventional methods. The potential benefits are derived from the characteristics of water as a payload, and include reduced ground handling and launch risk, denser packaging, and reduced tankage and piping requirements. A conceptual design of a water processor was generated based on related previous studies, and contemporary or near term technologies required. Extensive development efforts would be required to adapt the various subsystems needed for the propellant processor for use in space. Based on the cumulative results, propellant production by on orbit water electrolysis for support of SEI missions is not recommended.
Document ID
19910057008
Document Type
Conference Paper
Authors
Moran, Matthew E. (NASA Lewis Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Date Acquired
August 15, 2013
Publication Date
June 1, 1991
Subject Category
PROPELLANTS AND FUELS
Report/Patent Number
AIAA PAPER 91-1844
Distribution Limits
Public
Copyright
Other