NASA SBIR 2016 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 16-1 S3.03-7420
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Power Electronics and Management, and Energy Storage
PROPOSAL TITLE: Ultracapacitor Based Power Supply for CubeSats

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
FastCAP Systems Corporation
21 Drydock Avenue
Boston, MA 02210 - 2384
(857) 239-7500

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Joseph Lane
21 Drydock Avenue
Boston, MA 02210 - 2384
(617) 669-0110

CORPORATE/BUSINESS OFFICIAL (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Dr. John Cooley
21 Drydock Avenue
Boston, MA 02210 - 2384
(857) 239-7500

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 2
End: 3

Technology Available (TAV) Subtopics
Power Electronics and Management, and Energy Storage is a Technology Available (TAV) subtopic that includes NASA Intellectual Property (IP). Do you plan to use the NASA IP under the award?

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Future satellite systems and interplanetary missions are projected to require power electronics and energy storage systems that are less massive and smaller than the current State of the Art. Modern CubeSats rely heavily on solar panels to provide the necessary energy for operation. Additionally, radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs) are the primary source of energy responsible for supporting long duration missions where other sources of energy are not available or are logistically prohibitive to utilize. In both cases, to satisfy the electrical requirements of higher powered loads Li-ion battery solutions must increase in both weight and size.

FastCAP Systems is proposing an ultracapacitor based hybrid power supply (HPS) to dramatically reduce the size and weight of conventional high power energy storage solutions while increasing power handling capability. The proposed system will incorporate FastCAPs patented technology for harsh environment and ruggedized ultracapacitors already proven in the oil and gas industry and currently being developed across multiple grants for space exploration. The targeted application that this proposal will focus on is a high power (> 100W) HPS for integration into CubeSats.

Ultracapacitors have a relatively high power density that is roughly 10 to 100 times greater than Li-ion batteries and can be integrated into an energy storage system to both increase power handling capability and reduce the weight and size of a system designed for Li-ion batteries alone. The HPS will be responsible for charging and managing its ultracapacitor banks as well as performing system diagnostics that can be reported through the unit's communication port. The system will embrace modular design techniques similar to those already employed by FastCAP's energy exploration systems and consist of two modules.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Hybrid ultracapacitor based power supplies (HPS) enable high power density well beyond traditional capabilities of bulk energy storage such as Li-Ion batteries. The targeted application that this proposal will focus on is a high power (> 100W) HPS for integration into CubeSats. The CubeSat platform was chosen for its inherent size and weight restrictions but as a relatively low cost and standardized platform for this new technology. Future development of ultracapacitor based HPS systems will leverage the size, weight, and performance benefits demonstrated on the CubeSat platform for expansion into larger more powerful systems.

Beyond CubeSats, ultracapacitor based power systems enable any platform that incorporates low power energy generation to reduce the mass and volume of its energy storage while improving power bus regulation and system efficiency. For example, RTG, flywheel, and photovoltaic platforms typically include battery packs for storage and high power delivery that can be made smaller and lighter while enabling substantially higher power delivery. Furthermore, the use of ultracapacitor systems enable efficient point of load (POL) generation and power delivery, reducing system complexity, wiring harness size, and enabling new sensing architectures. Additional applications include weather balloon communication and sensing, extravehicular activity (EVA) suits, satellite load deployment, vehicle separation stages, and many more.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Hybrid ultra-capacitor power systems find potential applications in many fields where high power density is critical for operation. FastCAP's ruggedized system designs and large temperature range find immediate application in NASA applications as well as other applications within military, automotive, and aerospace industries.

FastCAP's hybrid technology is of interest to the military to reduce the size and weight of existing battery storage while improving power density. For example, assisted human exo-skeletons are wearable mobile systems intended to assist a soldier in physical tasks that would other be too difficult to complete without machinery. High power density power systems are required in order to be light enough be worn while powerful enough to power exoskeleton motors. Other uses included compact missile power systems where fast deployment of loads or motor actuation is required in a very small, ruggedized form factor. Additionally, micro-grid technology often integral to special operations units, can be benefitted for mass and volume reduction while supporting the array of communication, sensing, and life support systems typically power by solar panels and lithium batteries.

Finally, the aerospace and automotive industries are primarily concerned with mass reduction, safety, and cost reduction. All of these come with reducing the amount of lithium required for storage, shipping, and integration into power systems in planes and automotive vehicles.

TECHNOLOGY TAXONOMY MAPPING (NASA's technology taxonomy has been developed by the SBIR-STTR program to disseminate awareness of proposed and awarded R/R&D in the agency. It is a listing of over 100 technologies, sorted into broad categories, of interest to NASA.)

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