Validation Test of Advanced Technology for IPV Nickel-Hydrogen Flight Cells - Update 929485
Individual pressure vessel (IPV) nickel-hydrogen technology was advanced at NASA Lewis and under Lewis contracts with the intention of improving cycle life and performance. One advancement was to use 26 percent potassium hydroxide (KOH) electrolyte to improve cycle life. Another advancement was to modify the state-of-the-art cell design to eliminate identified failure modes. The modified design is referred to as the advanced design.
A breakthrough in the Low-Earth-Orbit (LEO) cycle life of IPV nickel-hydrogen cells has been previously reported. The cycle life of boiler plate cells containing 26 percent KOH electrolyte was about 40 000 LEO cycles compared to 3500 cycles for cells containing 31 percent KOH. The boiler plate test results are in the process of being validated using flight hardware and real time LEO test at the Naval Weapons Support Center (NWSC), Crane, Indiana under a NASA Lewis Contract.
An advanced 125 Ah IPV nickel-hydrogen cell was designed. The primary function of the advanced cell, is to store and deliver energy for long-term, LEO spacecraft missions. The new features of this design are: (1) use of 26 rather than 31 percent KOH electrolyte, (2) use of a patented catalyzed wall wick, (3) use of serrated-edge separators to facilitate gaseous oxygen and hydrogen flow within the cell, while still maintaining physical contact with the wall wick for electrolyte management, and (4) use of a floating rather than a fixed stack (state-of-the-art) to accommodate nickel-electrode expansion due to charge/discharge cycling. The significant improvements resulting from these innovations are extended cycle life; enhanced thermal, electrolyte, and oxygen management; and accommodation of nickel-electrode expansion. The advanced cell design is in the process of being validated using real time LEO cycle life testing of NWSC, Crane, Indiana. An update of validation test results confirming this technology is presented.