It is a (maybe marginal) problem for long duration space flights that hydrogen fuel leaks through its containing tank. I suppose it is because a hydrogen atom some of the time loses its electron and a free proton is so small that it is hard to stop with a physical barrier. But if the container had a positive electric charge, it should repel protons. One might lose electrons and get ionized hydrogen, but electrons have almost no mass and it should not be too difficult to recombine ions to atoms.

So how does this work, I have no clue, as you who do obviously realize by reading this ;)


1 Answer 1


Giving the tank a positive charge is in the most extreme case to partially ionize it, but if it is possible to do it in another way, it is going to take a lot of energy anyway. Even with only a little energy usage, a bigger problem is to avoid heating of the hydrogen, and the resulting boil-off. I can not think of a way to charge either the tank nor the hydrogen without producing a significant amount of waste heat.

  • $\begingroup$ Could the charging of the containment be done once and for all on the launch pad, using our still boundless cheap Earthly energy resources, and not requiring any much extra mass launched? $\endgroup$
    – LocalFluff
    Dec 22, 2015 at 13:44
  • $\begingroup$ @LocalFluff I can not see how you can keep the container from de-charging, considering that it must be charged in months in order to have any effect on leakage. I see your proposal as interesting, but quite unrealistic. $\endgroup$ Dec 22, 2015 at 13:48

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