Reliable, long-lasting, durable, and safe power storage has been one of the great challenges facing the aerospace and astronautics industry. Both industries demand that components be ever lighter, stronger, more durable, and cost effective. Batteries are heavy. They are usually the component with the most weight per unit of space than anything else on the space or aircraft. With launch costs of upwards of $13,000 per Kg to low earth orbit (LEO), every Kg avoided translates into more mission dollars and more weight allowance for other, more critical equipment or experiments. If it is going to take up most of the launch cost dollars, then the mission team absolutely wants it to be the most efficient, reliable, and safe.
Samsung and MIT have developed an exciting new material, the solid electrolyte, which is said to increase battery life, storage capacity, and provide a superior level of safety. Today, the most common lithium-ion batteries use liquid electrolyte which is an organic solvent known to overheat and catch fire. The solid state allows for potentially hundreds of thousands of cycles with little to no degradation and the ability to operate under frigid temperatures, according to a source at MIT. For charge retention, the solid electrolyte has better electrochemical stability than the current, liquid electrolyte batteries that are in wide circulation.
The NASA CubeQuest Challenge reserves the lion’s share of the awards for data relay which consumes an enormous amount of power. Power storage, reliability, and safety are some of our top concerns. With enough charge storage improvement, we may be able to adopt a transmission frequency with a shorter wave length giving us the ability to transmit a larger data volume. Even the smallest improvements can lead to game-changing edges in this challenge and that makes it exciting! Who knows what will show up; we have miles to go before the start of the space segment of this journey.
Credit for this topic: Want to learn more? Check out Lucas Mearian’s article on this topic at computerworld.com. http://www.computerworld.com/article/2973483/sustainable-it/samsung-mit-say-their-solid-state-batteries-could-last-a-lifetime.html