PhD Satellite (small & medium) power and propulsion application requirements by Sustainable Fuel Cell solution.

Updated: 4 months ago
Deadline: 21 Jan 2022

Small and medium satellites have limited space and volume. It also limits the power and propulsion system for these satellite applications. Current lithium-Ion batteries are not a sustainable solution. Similarly, hydrogen fuel cell either due to requirement of a high pressurized system of 35MPa, system complexity, safety. Exploring the alternative sustainable fuel cell solution to meet the power and propulsion requirements of small and medium-scale satellites is crucial. All the R&D activity will be performed at the TU Delft LR faculty and SSE section of the SpE department. We are looking for enthusiastic Ph.D. student to participate and contribute to the proposed research topic.

This project proposes the applicability of suitable green fuel (e.g., ethanol or NaBH4) based fuel cell for the direct conversion to energy for small/medium satellite power & propulsion needs. The green propellant as a source of clean energy is one of the key requirements in the space propulsion industry. The ethanol fuel cell has several advantages over Hydrogen fuel cell, including multi-fuel additive capability. Ethanol is in the liquid phase, hence not requiring a high pressurized system, unlike hydrogen, storage and safe to handle. Ethanol has a five times higher volumetric energy density (6.7kWh/l) than hydrogen (1.3kWh/L) and can be used safely in fuel cells for power generation. The power generated by ethanol with a fuel additive is expected to be performing better than hydrogen fuel cells. Theoretically, the efficiency of an ethanol fuel cell should be 96%, but in practice, at the highest power density, it is only 30%, due to a variety of reasons and demands detailed R&D investigation.

This project will be carried out within the Space Systems Engineering section of the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering, TU Delft.

This project proposes the following objectives:

(1) Characterisation, (2) Design Optimisation (using additive manufacturing technology) of fuel cell for usage for small/medium satellite power and propulsion applications, and (3) Demonstration of fuel cell prototype for power generation, performance, and efficiency by testing in the lab environment.  


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