A combined team of engineers and technicians from Ad Astra Rocket Company and Cummins Power Generation have successfully powered a Cummins-built electrical generator using mixtures of hydrogen and biogas. The effort is in parallel with an ongoing technology development to store hydrogen affordably.
The teams also designed a reliable process to mix and control hydrogen and biogas, and use together as an efficient energy source.
The electrical generator designed and manufactured by Cummins is part of an experimental 7.5 kW renewable energy system being studied for potential commercialization by a combined team from Ad Astra Rocket Company, Cummins Inc. and EARTH University in Costa Rica.
Other components of this system include an Ad Astra-designed solar and wind-based hydrogen production and storage system. Ad Astra is developing this system in collaboration with Costa Rica’s state-owned oil refinery, RECOPE. In addition, biogas production from biodigestors is being studied by EARTH University.
A range of experiments will follow the commissioning to complete full system characterization and optimization. The first tests were conducted with hydrogen-propane mixtures in preparation for the first methane deliveries, which will follow the commissioning demonstration.
The collaborative project was initiated in July of 2011 as part of an integrated renewable energy concept being studied by Ad Astra with application to distributed power architectures and other derivative uses.
Ad Astra Rocket will conduct the experimental characterization of the system and the production of hydrogen gas, while EARTH University will manage the production and delivery of methane gas, generated in bio-digesters from organic waste.
Established in 2005, Ad Astra Rocket Company is the developer of the VASIMR (Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket) engine, an advanced plasma space propulsion system aimed at the emerging in-space transportation market. Ad Astra also owns and operates Ad Astra Servicios Energéticos y Ambientales (AASEA) and Ad Astra Rocket Company, Costa Rica, respectively research and development subsidiaries in the US and Guanacaste, Costa Rica.
Through its subsidiaries, the company also develops earthbound high technology applications in renewable energy, advanced manufacturing and applied physics. Located near the NASA Johnson Space Center, Ad Astra has its main laboratory and corporate headquarters in Webster, Texas.