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Journal Article

Lunar RFC Reliability Testing for Assured Mission Success

NASA's Constellation program has selected the closed cycle hydrogen oxygen Polymer Electrolyte Membrane (PEM) regenerative Fuel Cell (RFC) as its baseline solar energy storage system for the lunar outpost and manned rover vehicles. Since the outpost and manned rovers are "human-rated", these energy storage systems will have to be of proven reliability exceeding 99 percent over the length of the mission. Because of the low (TRL=5) development state of the closed cycle hydrogen oxygen PEM RFC at present, and because there is no equivalent technology base in the commercial sector from which to draw or infer reliability information from, NASA will have to spend significant resources developing this technology from TRL 5 to TRL 9, and will have to embark upon an ambitious reliability development program to make this technology ready for a manned mission. Because NASA would be the first user of this new technology, NASA will likely have to bear all the costs associated with its development.
Technical Paper

Innovative Multi-Environment, Multimode Thermal Control System

Innovative multi-environment multimode thermal management architecture has been described that is capable of meeting widely varying thermal control requirements of various exploration mission scenarios currently under consideration. The proposed system is capable of operating in a single-phase or two-phase mode rejecting heat to the colder environment, operating in a two-phase mode with heat pump for rejecting heat to a warm environment, as well as using evaporative phase-change cooling for the mission phases where the radiator is incapable of rejecting the required heat. A single fluid loop can be used internal and external to the spacecraft for the acquisition, transport and rejection of heat by the selection of a working fluid that meets NASA safety requirements. Such a system may not be optimal for each individual mode of operation but its ability to function in multiple modes may permit global optimization of the thermal control system.
Technical Paper

Performance Characterization of a Lithium-Ion Gel Polymer Battery Power Supply System for an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are currently under development for NASA missions, earth sciences, aeronautics, the military, and commercial applications. The design of an all electric power and propulsion system for small UAVs was the focus of a detailed study. Currently, many of these small vehicles are powered by primary (nonrechargeable) lithium-based batteries. While this type of battery is capable of satisfying some of the mission needs, a secondary (rechargeable) battery power supply system that can provide the same functionality as the current system at the same or lower system mass and volume is desired. A study of commercially available secondary battery cell technologies that could provide the desired performance characteristics was performed.
Technical Paper

Light Weight Nickel-Alkaline Cells Using Fiber Electrodes

Using a new fiber electrode technology, currently developed and produced by Bekaert Corporation (Bekaert), Electro Energy, Inc., (EEI) Mobile Energy Products Group (formerly, Eagle-Picher Technologies, LLC, Power Systems Department) in Colorado Springs, CO has demonstrated that it is feasible to manufacture flight weight nickel hydrogen cells having about twice the specific energy (80 vs. 40 watt-hr./kg) as state-of-the-art nickel hydrogen cells that are currently flown on geosynchronous communications satellites. Although lithium-ion battery technology has made large in-roads to replace the nickel alkaline technology (nickel-cadmium, nickel-metal hydride), the technology offered here competes with lithium-ion weight and offers alternatives not present in the lithium-ion chemistry such as: ability to undergo a continuous overcharge, reversal on discharge, and sustain rate capability sufficient to start automotive and aircraft engines at subzero temperatures.
Technical Paper

DC Bus Regulation with a Flywheel Energy Storage System

This paper describes the DC bus regulation control algorithm for the NASA flywheel energy storage system during charge, charge reduction and discharge modes of operation. The algorithm was experimentally verified in [1] and this paper presents the necessary models for simulation. Detailed block diagrams of the controller algorithm are given. It is shown that the flywheel system and the controller can be modeled in three levels of detail depending on the type of analysis required. The three models are explained and then compared using simulation results.
Technical Paper

Design, Fabrication, and Testing of a 10 kW-hr H2-O2 PEM Fuel Cell Power System for High Altitude Balloon Applications

NASA Glenn Research Center and the Wallops Flight Facility jointly conducted a PEM fuel cell power system development effort for high altitude balloon applications. This was the first phase of NASA efforts to offer higher balloon payload power levels with extended duration mission capabilities for atmospheric science missions. At present, lead-acid batteries typically supply about 100 watts of power to the balloon payload for approximately 8 hours duration. The H2-O2 PEM fuel cell demonstration system developed for this effort can supply at least 200 watts for 48 hours duration. The system was designed and fabricated, then tested in ambient ground environments as well as in a thermal vacuum chamber to simulate operation at 75 kft. altitude. Initially, this program was planned to culminate with a demonstration flight test but no flight has been scheduled, thus far.
Technical Paper

A Modular, Peak Power Tracking Solar Array Regulator

Two high voltage, Series Connected Boost Regulators (SCBR) were developed to demonstrate the benefits of the SCBR topology for low Earth orbit communication satellites. The resulting breadboards had a power density of 1,200 W/kg and a measured efficiency of 95-99%. Several peak power tracking methods and algorithms were implemented to demonstrate the ability of the SCBR to peak power track a solar array. The peak power tracker derived maximum power at all times and reduced the number of sunlight battery discharges necessary. The breadboards also demonstrated several modularity techniques, which will allow a common SCBR module to be used in several applications. The breadboards were tested in an end-to-end high voltage test facility using high fidelity solar array simulators, an actual NiH2 battery, and simulated constant power loads. Design details and test results are presented.
Technical Paper

Low Temperature Performance Evaluation of Battery Management Technologies

This paper presents the results of research efforts performed to evaluate the performance of rechargeable battery management technologies at low temperatures. Three battery chemistries are considered in this work. These are the Nickel-Cadmium (NiCd), Nickel-Metal Hydride (NiMH) and Lithium-ion (Li-ion). Battery management evaluation kits from two battery manufacturers were acquired and tested. These are the DS2434k, DS2435k and DS2437k from Dallas Semiconductor and the MAX712, MAX846A and MAX2003A from MAXIM Integrated Products. The kits were characterized in a chamber whose temperature was changed and regulated using liquid nitrogen. The temperature of the chamber was varied from 20°C to −180°C. At each temperature, the battery voltage, current, state of charge, temperature and other auxiliary variables as monitored by each chip were recorded. Also, the performance of each kit after a complete cooling and heating cycle is recorded.
Technical Paper

Progress in the Development of Lightweight Nickel Electrode for Nickel-Hydrogen Cell

Development of a high specific energy battery is one of the objectives of the lightweight nickel-hydrogen (Ni-H2) program at the NASA Glenn Research Center. The approach has been to improve the nickel electrode by continuing combined in-house and contract efforts to develop a lighter weight electrode for the nickel-hydrogen cell. Small fiber diameter nickel plaques are used as conductive supports for the nickel hydroxide active material. These plaques are commercial products and have an advantage of increased surface area available for the deposition of active material. Initial tests include activation and capacity measurements at five different discharge levels, C/2, 1.0C, 1.37C, 2.0C, and 2.74C. The electrodes are life cycle tested using a half-cell configuration at 40 and 80% depths-of-discharge (DOD) in a low-Earth-orbit regime. The electrodes that pass the initial tests are life cycle-tested in a boilerplate nickel-hydrogen cell before flightweight designs are built and tested.