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Liten at the final frontier: space

​Lithium battery cells produced by Liten, a CEA Tech institute, have passed a first round of tests on the road to qualification for the upcoming Ariane 6 satellite launch mission.

Published on 5 April 2016

The Ariane satellite launcher is embarking on increasingly long missions that require more energy than ever before, creating the need for innovative new sources of power. And the task is a complex one: when it comes to space missions, size and weight are crucial. Liten is working with Airbus Defence & Space to tackle the problem under a European Space Agency request for proposals. “We needed to find a technology capable of delivering the very high power required for the launch phase and able to operate at full capacity at temperatures from –20 °C to 70 °C,” said a Liten researcher.

Liten’s team came up with a very recent lithium-battery system that integrates a carbon monofluoride cathode and a lithium-ion battery with silicon at the anode. The cathode and anode technologies alone are capable of meeting the needs of four on-board applications: thrust vector command, pyrotechnics, functional power supply, and backup.

The chemical formulations the researchers selected look very promising. Proof-of-concept and functional prototype testing have been successful. “The temperature, aging, and vibration-resistance testing carried out in Ariane 6 launch conditions produced good results. These tests were carried out at cell-level. We extrapolated the results to pack-level and the outcome looks just as promising.”

Liten’s battery could very well be on board Ariane 6 in 2020. Stay tuned!

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