Scenario Power Load Analysis Tool (SPLAT) MagicDraw Plug-in

The SPLAT tool could be applied to any project that needs to track time-dependent power consumption; it computes power usage profiles based on modeled component information and scenarios.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California

Power consumption during all phases of spacecraft flight is of great interest to the aerospace community. As a result, significant analysis effort is exerted by both system and electrical-domain engineers to understand the rates of electrical energy generation and consumption under many operational scenarios of the system. Previously, no standard tool existed for creating and maintaining a Power Equipment List (PEL) of spacecraft components that consume power, and no standard tool existed for generating power load profiles based on this PEL information during mission design phases. Projects have traditionally either developed ad-hoc spreadsheet-based tools, or adapted complex simulation tools to compute such resource predictions; both of these approaches have significant limitations.

Posted in: Briefs, Power Management, Energy, Energy Storage, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Energy consumption, Aircraft operations, Spacecraft

Wideband, GaN MMIC, Distributed Amplifier-Based Microwave Power Module

The solid-state module operates as a radar, communication, or navigation system.

John H. Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio

Historically, the term microwave power module (MPM) has been associated with a small, fully integrated, self-contained radio frequency (RF) amplifier that combines both solid-state and microwave vacuum electronics technologies. Typically, the output power of these MPMs is on the order of about 100 Watts CW over an octave bandwidth. The MPMs require both a solid-state amplifier at the front end and a microwave vacuum electronics amplifier at the back end. However, such MPMs cannot be utilized for communications because the MPMs are not optimized for linearity or efficiency. Also, the MPMs can be very expensive to manufacture, particularly when modules are produced in very small quantities for space applications. Also, a kilovolt (kV) class power supply is required to power the traveling-wave tube amplifier, which is a part of the microwave vacuum electronics.

Posted in: Briefs, Power Management, Energy, Energy Storage, Amplifiers, Architecture, Amplifiers, Architecture, Product development, Radiation

Integrated Solar Array Power Management System

Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama

When solar cells are electrically connected to form solar arrays, they are organized into strings. Each string represents a specific number of cells connected in series to produce a specific voltage. The strings are then connected in parallel to add their currents to meet the array power requirement. This requires that the strings have the same voltage. Blocking diodes are used to take out strings with voltage that is too low, resulting in loss of power. When the arrays are mounted to a non-coplanar surface such as a spacecraft body or inflatable structure, many strings will have voltages lower than the rated voltage. This regulator manages the voltage of each string individually so that its power may be used, regardless of its voltage. It does this by converting each string’s energy into a series of high-voltage pulses that charges a reservoir capacitor to one of a set of common voltages used by the spacecraft bus. This allows for use of all of the illuminated strings in producing well-regulated power at pre-programmed voltages.

Posted in: Briefs, Power Management, Energy, Energy Storage, Architecture, Capacitors, Voltage regulators, Architecture, Capacitors, Voltage regulators, Solar energy, Spacecraft

High-Energy-Density Solid-State Li-Ion Battery with Enhanced Safety

John H. Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio

High-energy-density and safe rechargeable batteries are required for NASA’s future exploration missions. Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries are attractive energy storage systems due to their relatively high energy and power densities. However, the unfavorable side reactions between the electrodes and the liquid electrolyte adversely impact performance. These interfacial reactions are in the form of either anodic oxidation of the electrolyte, or dissolution of the cathode into the electrolyte. As a result, the practical capacity and cycle life of the battery are limited. More importantly, the reactions at the cathode-electrolyte interface pose a serious threat to safety due to the electrolyte decomposition and formation of gaseous products within the cell. In addition, growth of lithium dendrite on the anode can cause cell short circuit and lead to fire or even explosion in the presence of liquid electrolyte.

Posted in: Briefs, Thermal Management, Energy, Energy Storage, Battery cell chemistry, Lithium-ion batteries, Battery cell chemistry, Lithium-ion batteries, Safety testing and procedures, Spacecraft

A New Generation of Cooling

Energy efficiency is key to the total cost of ownership of enclosure climate control solutions, and electricity consumption is a major element of operating costs. Hybrid technology, developed and patented by Rittal, combines conventional compression cooling, similar to what has been used in traditional air conditioners, with a heat pipe. The heat pipe uses evaporation of a working fluid in an evacuated tube.

Posted in: Articles, News, Energy Efficiency

Researchers Turn Solar Energy into Electrical Power Using Photo-Bioelectrochemical Cells

A new paradigm for the development of photo-bioelectrochemical cells has been reported by researchers from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, in Israel, and the University of Bochum, in Germany. The design of photo-bioelectrochemical cells based on native photosynthetic reaction is attracting substantial recent interest as a means for the conversion of solar light energy into electrical power.

Posted in: Articles, News, Energy, Solar Power

Energy Harvester Uses RF Waves to Power Air Pollution Sensors

As more connected devices enter the market and see wider adoption by an ever increasing number of industries, the Internet of Things (IoT) is rapidly expanding.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Energy, Energy Harvesting, Sensors, Internet of things, Sensors and actuators, Internet of things, Sensors and actuators, Air pollution

Onion-Like Layers Help New Nanoparticle Glow

A new, onion-like nanoparticle could open new frontiers in bioimaging, solar energy harvesting and light-based security techniques.

Posted in: Articles, News, Energy, Solar Power, Imaging

Solar-Powered Water Purification System Supports Remote Village

For nearly two years, residents of the remote Mexican village of La Mancalona, most of whom are subsistence farmers, have operated and maintained a solar-powered water purification system engineered by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Posted in: News, Solar Power

New Solar Energy Storage Technique Could Boost Solar Cell Usage

Researchers at Missouri University of Science and Technology have developed a relatively inexpensive and simple way to split water into hydrogen and oxygen through a new electrodeposition method. The method produces highly efficient solar cells that can gather solar energy for use as fuel. The research, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, could lead to a sizable increase in the amount of hydrogen available for fuel usage.

Posted in: Articles, News, Energy Storage, Solar Power

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