NASA Spinoff

“We were able to use what we learned from the NASA three-port converter work and use it to help implement our battery charge algorithms on the X-90 while also implementing MPPT on the solar panel,” Elmes says. The result, he says, is ApECOR’s product charges batteries at least 30 percent faster than comparative devices using the same solar panel. This kind of speed is a particular advantage for one of ApECOR’s target customers, the military, providing a means of quickly and efficiently charging the batteries used for radios and other devices in the field.

Elmes says the NASA-derived X-90 is a promising addition to ApECOR’s offerings, and that other potential applications for the technology include providing power through solar or wind sources in rural farming areas in developing countries and allowing for the remote operation of irrigation pumps. The company is also engaged in another SBIR project with Glenn, working to develop high temperature semiconductors for applications in space, where extreme temperatures are the norm. This project could result in numerous terrestrial uses related to eliminating the problem of heat generated by powerful electronics—using temperature-tolerant semiconductors, costly and space-consuming elements like heat sinks and liquid coolant systems could be downsized or eliminated.

“It’s hard for small businesses to pursue work like this that could have a major economic benefit down the road but is currently risky and difficult,” Elmes says. “The combination at NASA, where they have a very strong team of people who understand where the technology is going and can see where there are technological needs, provides a big benefit.”

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