Thermal batteries for aerospace and defense

Thermal batteries for aerospace and defense

The thermal battery is a primary reserve battery activated by melting the molten salt as an electrolyte and using a heat source. Because of its high specific energy and specific power, wide operating environment temperature, long storage time, rapid and reliable activation, compact structure, simple process, low cost, and no maintenance, it has been favored by the military once it came out. It has become an ideal power source for modern weapons such as missiles, nuclear weapons, artillery, etc., and occupies an important position in the military field.

Thermal batteries for aerospace and defense
Thermal batteries

The distributed battery system composed of thermal batteries plays a vital role in the use of electric brake control brakes of aircraft. The use of more electric technologies in aircraft will require enhanced backup power systems. This backup power system consists of thermal batteries. The latest developments in thermal battery design have revealed significant improvements in performance, shelf life, and high-energy emergency backup power capabilities.

The thermal battery developed by Eagle Pitcher shows an unlimited shelf life and reliability, and it runs for more than two hours without failure. These thermal batteries are best suited for aircraft, buoys, cruise missiles, and other applications that require long-term reliable operation.

The working life of the previous generation thermal battery is about 10 minutes. Such a battery developed in 1995 has shown an operating life of more than two hours. The thermal battery designed and developed after 2005 has shown an operating life of nearly 5 years. Using an improved thermally insulated housing, combined with a low-power heater in the battery, will further improve the operating life of the thermal battery. Improved electrolyte and cathode materials that can operate over a wide temperature range and maintain long-term activity will significantly improve the overall performance of the thermal battery. In the case of missile, aircraft and satellite applications, the weight, size and life of the battery are the most stringent requirements.

Electric energy systems for spacecraft and communication satellites generally include energy converters that incorporate energy storage devices, such as batteries and power conditioning components. In addition, compared with traditional voltage regulators, pulse width modulation regulators are smaller, lighter, and cheaper. High system reliability requires a certain amount of redundancy in the power system. As mentioned earlier, the spacecraft power system consists of three different components, one of which is the battery. Each component uses the technology of adding redundant components to meet specific reliability goals, which may increase the cost and weight of the system. However, compared with other components, the redundancy of the battery only slightly increases the cost and weight.

Thermal batteries for aerospace and defense
thermal battery

As for the space application of batteries, nickel-cadmium batteries are widely deployed as energy storage devices in communication satellites and orbiting spacecraft. These batteries and other batteries have been used for nearly 30 years. Since 2000, in some cases, more efficient and reliable batteries have been used in space systems. Regardless of the type of battery used, if satellite-based solar cells go through a dark period, the onboard battery must meet the power consumption requirements of the onboard electronic sensors and electronic devices. Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and Geosynchronous Orbit (GEO) satellites require different battery specifications. Nickel-cadmium and nickel-metal hydride rechargeable batteries (Ni-H2) are most suitable for orbiting satellites. Currently, most geosynchronous orbit (GEO) satellites deploy nickel-metal hydride (Ni-H2) batteries. Nickel-based electrodes bring improvements in cycle life and reliability. Published literature indicates that Ni-H2 rechargeable batteries have been used in several planetary missions. In ground applications, due to the high initial cost of these batteries and some shortcomings, such as rapid discharge even at +10°C and a 10% capacity loss after 3 days, the application of backup power in emergency or remote locations is restricted. In addition, the typical but not serious shortcomings of this battery are low volume energy, high heat dissipation and safety risks at high data rates. These weak links and other shortcomings can be eliminated by sealed and maintenance-free nickel-cadmium batteries.