Future NASA missions will require system operation at extreme environmental conditions, with temperatures as low as -180°C. Current state-of-practice is to place the hardware in bulky and power-inefficient environmentally protected housings. Hence, NASA is seeking systems that can operate in these extreme environments without needing environmental protection systems.
TDA Research, Inc. is developing hybrid supercapacitors that can operate in extremely cold temperatures (-180°C). The supercapacitor electrodes will use our patented carbon structures to provide high areal capacitance and power in a small package with high power and energy density. On-chip supercapacitors provide the unique capability to store electrical energy and deliver it very quickly and efficiently, enhancing peak-load performance, and offer excellent cycling capability (1-2 orders of magnitude better than batteries).
In Phase I project, we fabricated and tested chip-sized supercapacitors (both 2D and 3D) with superior relative powers (avg. of 28.4-34.1 W/g) and relative energies of 4.6-5.6 Wh/kg (when mass is added for a commercial fully packaged device). We cycled over capacitors over 5,000+ charge/discharge cycles showing good stability. In the proposed Phase II work, we will continue the development of structured electrochemical capacitors for extreme environments, optimizing the carbon structures and (electrode formulations), the low temperature electrolytes used and the capacitor design to maximize the areal capacitance and its power and energy density. We will then fabricate, test, and deliver functional prototype cells to NASA at the end of Phase II.
TDA’s ultracapacitors can withstand extreme low temperature environments found on Titan, the Moon. Mars, asteroids, comets and other small bodies, and can be used during the descent through kilometers of cryogenic ice expected in these planetary survey missions. The applications include supplementing batteries during high power transients: powering precision actuators and sensors, high-torque force actuators, radio-frequency (RF) electronics, guidance and navigation avionics and instruments.
Micro and chip-based supercapacitors can also be used to supplement batteries, enhancing peak-load performance. Other commercial applications could include energy storage and high power in various low temperature applications: (i) Polar environment operations; (ii) Electric aircraft power systems (iii) Aircraft sensors; (iv) Infrastructure health monitoring (v) Electrical vehicle acceleration.