NASA Develops New Batteries To Power Microsatellites, CubeSats

Posted: Feb 13 2017, 12:31pm CST | by , Updated: Feb 13 2017, 12:38pm CST, in News | Latest Science News

NASA Develops New Batteries to Power Microsatellites, CubeSats
Daniel Perez, Ph.D., a graduate student from Miami University, displays piece of prototype for a new solid-state battery in Prototype Laboratory at KSC in Florida. The size of battery is so small that it could be a prime candidate for use in microsatellites, CubeSats. Researchers at Kennedy are collaborating with experts at the University of Miami. The university partnership is funded through SST Program, in NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate. Credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis

New batteries will provide power to CubeSats, Microsatellites

Have you ever seen small packages with valuable things? If not yet then ask Dr. Luke Roberson, senior principal investigator for Flight Research within the Exploration Research and Technology Directorate at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Dr. Roberson is doing a new research on solid state battery prototype along with Dr. Ryan who is a composite material expert at the University of Miami. The battery was created by Xiangyang Zhou, Ph.D., associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering.

Three university students are also working with Dr. Roberson on the prototype batteries. Creation of a new battery and material could enhance NASA’s payload operations.

Now the battery can stay in the payload structure instead of staying in an experiment, taking its 20 to 35 percent of volume. The battery will open up more space for researchers to do more experiments, said Roberson.

The battery is 2-3 millimeters thin that makes it good to be used in micro-satellites, like CubeSats. The research study is funded through Small Spacecraft Technology Program in Space Technology Mission Directorate.

The new battery is so slim that it will take only one third of the space of the batteries currently used to power small satellites. Layers of the prototype material are made by Daniel Perez, Ph.D., a graduate student from the University of Miami in the Prototype Laboratory at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Daniel Perez is a Ph.D. student in mechanical engineering from the University of Miami and he is supporting this project. Daniel visited Kennedy so he could learn to make the structure of the battery prototype. Perez will make several layers for battery structure.

Two more students are working with Dr. Zhou to make solid state structural battery layers. The team will also perform composite reinforcement and mechanical/electrical test at Kennedy in future, said Roberson.

He also said that the new battery could be used in several applications like satellite structural trusses, the International Space Station, and it can power habitat structures installed on planets, as well as commercial applications, like automobile frames or tabletop battery rechargers.

Roberson hopes that the technology will be safe to store energy, efficiently replacing electrical components in structures.

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