NASA's cryogenic infrastructure, which supports launch vehicle operations and propulsion testing, is reaching an age when major refurbishment is required. Key elements of this infrastructure are the large double-walled cryogenic storage tanks used for both space vehicle launch operations and rocket propulsion testing at various NASA field centers. Perlite powder has historically been the insulation material of choice for these applications, but new bulk-fill insulation materials, including glass bubbles and aerogel beads, have been shown to provide improved thermal and mechanical performance. Research was conducted on thermal performance to identify operational considerations and risks associated with using these new materials in large cryogenic storage tanks. The program was divided into three main areas: material testing (thermal conductivity and physical characterization), tank demonstration testing (liquid nitrogen and liquid hydrogen), and system studies (thermal modeling, granular physics, and insulation changeout). This research showed that more energy-efficient insulation solutions are possible for large-scale cryogenic storage tanks worldwide and summarized the operational requirements that should be considered for these applications.
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