NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida has announced a new partnership with Cella Energy Inc. that could result in vehicles being powered by hydrogen, which is cleaner and produces no greenhouse gases.
This new approach to hydrogen will be the focus of research, development and possible production during the five-year Space Act Agreement (SAA) between Kennedy and Cella. The company has formulated a way to store hydrogen safely in tiny pellets that still allow the fuel to be burned in an engine. Because of its rocket work, Kennedy has the infrastructure and experience necessary to handle hydrogen safely.
"We have a lot of great capabilities at Kennedy and some exceptional talent in both our materials and cryogenics labs, and I think that's what mostly attracted them to us," said Robert Hubbard, Business Development manager at Kennedy.
Cella hopes to make its micro-bead technology practical enough to be used as a fuel in most kinds of machinery, cars, and perhaps even spacesuits and portable electronics. The eventual goal is to use it in fuel-cell engines, which combine hydrogen and oxygen to generate electricity and produce water as the only exhaust product. Kennedy has worked with fuel-cell technology in Apollo spacecraft and space shuttles.
The company already has offices in the Space Life Sciences Laboratory at Kennedy and is expected to become an early tenant at Exploration Park, a research center now under construction at the space center.
"We're trying to expand Kennedy's portfolio of capabilities," Hubbard said. "We want to be on the cutting edge of developing green energy technologies and what better place to do it than Kennedy's Exploration Park."
Under the agreement, Kennedy will serve as a consultant to Cella for developing an integrated solution for hydrogen storage and help Cella incorporate Kennedy-developed hydrogen sensing color-changing polymers. Cella also is interested in working with lightweight aerofoam and aeroplastic, another NASA innovation, notable for their thermal-insulating properties.