NASA Selects Proposals to Build Better Batteries for Space Exploration

NASA’s Game Changing Development (GCD) program has named two suggestions for Phase II awards targeted toward developing new energy storage tools to substitute the battery systems formerly used by America’s space program.
Addressing numerous high priority experiments, NASA is making important investments to achieve safe and affordable deep space traveling. The development of high-energy storage gadgets will diminish the mass needed to store electrical power in space and better enable the agency’s future human and robotic exploration missions.

Fly wheels, such as the NASA G2 flywheel module above, are one way to store rotational energy for use by spacecraft or machines on Earth. NASA’s looking for new energy storage systems to enable our future exploration missions.


Credit: NASA

Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator for the Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) at NASA Headquarters in Washington said: “Technology drives exploration, and battery technology is a critical element of that drive. These next-generation batteries will dramatically improve the availability and affordability of the power and energy required for future exploration missions. The development effort will focus on delivering safe, low mass batteries to enable longer missions deeper into space.”
The nominated awardees, and their project titles, are:
University of Maryland, College Park: Garnet Electrolyte Based Safe, Lithium-Sulfur Energy Storage
Amprius Inc. of Sunnyvale, California: Silicon Anode Based Cells for High Specific Energy Li + Systems
NASA’s technology roadmaps and tactical investment plans highlight these complex technologies as critical to the agency’s exploration to Mars and future mission. According to the National Research Council’s NASA Space Technology Roadmaps and Priorities, there is essential to increase existing power and eliminate the limit of power availability for space missions.
The selected proposals will help improve energy storage with reliable power systems that can survive the wide range of NASA missions in harsh space environments, while cutting their mass by 50% or more.
Phase I awards were around $250,000, offering four awardees with the funding required to conduct an eight-month component test and exploration phase. Phase II is an engineering hardware stage that provides as much as to $1 million per award for 1 year, and Phase III will consist of the prototype hardware development, with up to $2 million per award for 1 year and 6 months.
Suggestions for Phase II were received from federally sponsored exploration and development centers, industry and universities. NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, manages the GCD program for STMD.

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