Future science missions to the Lunar surface and other planets and their moons will require advanced secondary battery systems that can operate at extreme temperatures. Advancements that address battery operation at extreme temperatures, combined with high specific energy and energy density are critically needed. Conventional rechargeable Li-ion cells operate within a narrow temperature range of -20 to 40 ºC, and they particularly suffer from capacity loss at lower temperatures. Improved batteries that minimize the need for strict thermal management, which adds mass to the spacecraft, are critically needed.
The solution to making rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that operate in extreme temperature environments is to develop a solid electrolyte that does not suffer from poor solid-solid lithium conductivity. New materials and methods for tailoring these solid-solid interfaces are needed. It is also critical to combine this modified solid electrolyte with high voltage cathodes and stable anodes to produce the high energy density batteries that NASA needs. In this project TDA Research will develop surface modified solid electrolytes and surface modified electrodes that combine to make high voltage lithium rechargeable batteries suitable for the Lunar environment.
The targeted NASA application is for energy storage (batteries) that do not require excessive thermal management on the Lunar surface. NASA has specifically identified this need, and it is the primary target application. Similarly, extreme temperature tolerant batteries would serve NASA for additional missions (Mars, Titan, etc.).
There is an immense dual-use commercial market for solid batteries on Earth. Electric vehicles, electric aircraft and numerous other energy storage applications would greatly benefit from being able to work below -40 ºC, and safety would be greatly enhanced by solid-electrolyte batteries that were not flammable and could survive temperatures above 100 ºC (for example, vehicle fires).