Hydrogen, biogas power Cummins generator in Costa Rica

The electrical generator is part of an experimental 7.5 kilo watt renewable energy system.

June 3, 2013   by PLANT STAFF

LIBERIA, Costa Rica – A team of engineers and technicians from Ad Astra Rocket Co. and Cummins Power Generation have successfully powered a Cummins-built electrical generator using mixtures of hydrogen and biogas.

The teams designed a reliable process to mix and control hydrogen and biogas, and use together as an efficient energy source. These achievements could have long-term positive impacts especially in the developing world where energy resources are scarcer and less affordable.

The electrical generator designed and manufactured by Cummins is part of an experimental 7.5 kilo watt 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.


Friday’s commissioning tests are the result of careful preparation and safety reviews conducted by the engineering team. A full battery of experiments will follow to complete full system characterization and optimization. The Friday 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 worldwide.

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.

Ad Astra Rocket Company develops the VASIMR engine, an advanced plasma space propulsion system aimed at the emerging in-space transportation market. The company, founded in 2005, also owns and operates Ad Astra Servicios Energéticos y Ambientales (AASEA) and Ad Astra Rocket Co., Costa Rica and development subsidiaries in the US and Guanacaste, Costa Rica.

Cummins a manufacturer of diesel and natural gas engines and related technologies, including fuel systems, controls, air handling, filtration, emission solutions and electrical power generation systems based in Columbus, Ind. The company employs approximately 46,000 people across a network of approximately 600 company-owned and independent distributor locations and approximately 6,500 dealer locations.

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