Honda and JAXA to Create a "Renewable Energy System" in Space

JAXA and Honda plan to create a "circulative renewable energy system” in space 1 photo
Photo: JAXA/Honda
On June 14th, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Honda announced their new plan to begin a collaborative feasibility study on a “circulative renewable energy system” in space. This system is designed to provide oxygen, hydrogen, and electricity to human outposts and rovers for a prolonged period of time.
When you leave Earth, you don’t just need oxygen, water, and food. There are many resources required to power various activities in space. JAXA and Honda are working on a system that would generate oxygen, hydrogen, and electricity directly in space without needing resupply from Earth.

Their study’s final goal is to build a circulative renewable energy system that combines a high differential pressure water electrolysis system ( which would use solar energy to electrolyze water and produce oxygen and hydrogen) and a fuel cell system (that would generate water and electricity from oxygen and hydrogen).

The agency and the automaker started this project last year, in November when they signed a three-year joint research agreement to study the circulative renewable energy system that would be later used on the Lunar Gateway – a planned small space station in lunar orbit intended to serve as a solar-powered communication hub – and on the surface of the Moon.

More specifically, the plan is to utilize hydrogen as fuel for transfer spacecraft that will land on and fly from the Moon, while the oxygen will be used for people at the outposts. The fuel cell system will combine both oxygen and hydrogen to create electricity for the outposts and rovers on the lunar surface.

Plus, the high differential pressure water electrolysis system created by Honda will compress hydrogen without the use of a compressor, making it compact and lightweight. This would help reduce cargo capacity and weight, which often hinders space travel.

This year, JAXA and Honda will use several prototypes and begin a feasibility study to clear out previous issues identified with component technologies of the circulative renewable energy system. According to the space agency, the follow-up results will be reflected in 2022’s study.
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About the author: Florina Spînu
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Florina taught herself how to drive in a Daewoo Tico (a rebadged Suzuki Alto kei car) but her first "real car" was a VW Golf. When she’s not writing about cars, drones or aircraft, Florina likes to read anything related to space exploration and take pictures in the middle of nature.
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