Honda and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) have agreed to embark on a joint feasibility study to supply oxygen, hydrogen, and electricity to humans and rovers in outer space.
The circulative renewable energy system is the subject of a three-year research agreement signed in November 2020 and intended for use on the Lunar Gateway and the Moon. Gateway is the planned lunar-orbit space station from NASA intended to house a rotation of astronauts.
In a canned statement, JAXA described the study:
In addition to water and food, people need oxygen, as well as hydrogen for fuel and electricity for various activities for life in space.
One of the solutions to obtain them in space without resupply from Earth is creating a circulative renewable energy system, which combines a high differential pressure water electrolysis system that produces oxygen and hydrogen using solar energy to electrolyze water and a fuel cell system that generates electricity and water from oxygen and hydrogen.
While the astronauts will be using the oxygen, the hydrogen will be fuel for landing and ascending spacecraft. The electricity will power the outposts and Moon rovers.
Honda said the high differential pressure water electrolysis system doesn't need a compressor for the hydrogen and is therefore compact, lightweight, and easier to launch into space.
Honda has long bet on hydrogen fuel cells and is now cashing in on their investment in the technology outside of the auto market.
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Takeishi Ikuo of Honda angled the project as good R&D for green energy back on our home planet: "Since the circulative renewable energy system will contribute significantly to carbon neutrality on Earth, we will refine our technologies in the ultimate environment of outer space and then feed our achievements back to Earth." ®