Mainstream proposes a lunar-based Integrated Cryogenic Propellant Liquefaction System (I-CPLS) that: 1) has a mass of less than 200 kg, 2) power requirement less than 15 kW, and 3) and produces liquifies oxygen (O2) (3.3 kg/h) and hydrogen (H2) (0.4 kg/h). The key enabling components of the I-CPLS are 1) an integrated cycle that liquifies O2 and H2 using a single cooling stream and 2) an ultra-lightweight carbon fiber/titanium composite compressor housing. The proposed system consists of a hermetically-sealed magnetically coupled five-stage H2 turbo compressor with a single-stage turbine. The integrated design uses H2 as the working fluid, eliminating the need to transport additional fluid to the lunar surface. The warm-end recycle H2 stream provides the additional refrigeration capacity required for O2 liquefaction without adding any additional O2 equipment (compression and expansion).
In Phase I, detailed system and component models will be developed and used to optimize the system weight and power. The final system has a mass of less than 200 kg and power requirement less than 15 kW. To accomplish this, we will refine the cycle model including component design equations, optimize the system using the stage pressure ratios, recuperator draw temperatures, and component designs. A proof-of-concept turbo compressor composite housing will be fabricated and demonstrated to provide the required mechanical integrity at cryogenic temperatures.
The proposed research is targeted at improvement in the cryogenic propellant liquefaction state of the art, in particular system weight reduction. This fills a need for ultra-lightweight and low power liquefaction system designs for lunar and Martian vehicle refueling systems.
As superconducting technologies advance and begin to be implemented this technology may fill a need for highly mobile liquefaction systems may be required for emergency response, military, and remote applications.