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KULR and NASA developing in-space 3D printed batteries

KULR Technology Group, a company that manufactures next-gen carbon fiber thermal management technologies for batteries and electronic systems, has entered into a dual-use technology development agreement with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) to develop 3D printed battery systems for manned and robotic space applications.

The company will utilize its passive propagation resistant (PPR) and internal short circuit (ISC) technologies to create the 3D printed battery systems for NASA. The goal is to develop a product that can be safely manufactured and deployed in space. The devices will also have to meet JSC 20793 Revision D safety standards to be used for crewed space missions.

NASA KULR Battery

“NASA employs highly rigorous assurance and safety standards, especially for our man-rated technologies,” said John Carr, NASA MSFC Deputy Chief Technologist. “KULR’s PPR design solution for future manned and unmanned space missions is an ideal fit for mass design, flexibility and cost, all the while maintaining this safety rigor through battery risks such as thermal runaway.”

The joint project will leverage KULR’s experience with designing and manufacturing PPR battery backs and the Marshall Space Flight Center’s extensive knowledge of additive manufacturing for space applications. Together, the partners seek to attain “the pinnacle in safe battery power systems manufactured in outer space.”

“Through our partnership with KULR, we will now have the incredible ability to build space-optimized battery pack systems in-orbit,” added Brandon Lewis, Human Landing System Cross Program Analysis Coordinator. “We take the safety of our astronauts very seriously. KULR’s technologies will enable us to build safer battery packs that prevent dangerous thermal runaway propagation and protect our most valuable assets.”

The 3D printed battery pack project was preceded by another collaboration between KULR and NASA: last year, NASA used KULR’s PPR solution to transport and store lithium-ion batteries on the International Space Station (ISS). The ability to directly 3D print battery packs in space, however, could offer a number of advantages, including more cost efficient launches (the cost of launches is highly dependent on the weight of payloads). KULR will also investigate the repair and maintenance of the batteries in space.

“The optionality to repair and replace battery packs in space with parts 3D printed in space is a complete game changer,” concluded Dr. Timothy Knowles, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer of KULR. “3D printing of KULR’s PPR battery design will help lower the costs associated with battery pack transportation for the upcoming Artemis missions, where NASA will build sustainable elements on and around the moon in preparation for an eventual human mission to Mars.”

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Tess Boissonneault

Tess Boissonneault is a Montreal-based content writer and editor with five years of experience covering the additive manufacturing world. She has a particular interest in amplifying the voices of women working within the industry and is an avid follower of the ever-evolving AM sector. Tess holds a master's degree in Media Studies from the University of Amsterdam.

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