NASA Freely Shares X57 Lessons

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

NASA and several partner firms have been working on the X-57 Maxwell electric propulsion demonstrator for the past several years.  It hasn’t been as easy as it looked at first.  Encouragingly, NASA is sharing some of the hard lessons it has learned in the process, much like Elon Musk sharing many of his patents with the world. One of the hardest lessons involved the multiple battery packs, originally planned to be off-the-shelf units.  A December 2016 test resulted in a thermal runaway, a situation in which one cell that overheats can self-destruct and cause adjacent cells to follow suit.  This, as we’ve seen in Dreamliner incidents, can be dangerous and potentially deadly.  Such fires are exceedingly well reported, with any Tesla …

Dr. Eric Darcy, Building Better Batteries

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants 0 Comments

Dr. Eric Darcy, the battery group leader at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas was selected last year as an Innovation Ambassador, and worked with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado to devise mathematical models for lithium ion battery performance.  This was part of NASA’s Innovative Partnerships Program, which allows some of NASA’s most talented scientists and engineers to work at several of America’s leading innovative external research and development organizations. NASA explains that the “inaugural group of ambassadors is initiating the planned annual program targeting opportunities to create NASA partnerships and new innovation sources outside of the traditional aerospace field. During assignments of up to one year, the NASA ambassadors will share their own expertise while …