Forge Nano Launches First ALD-Enabled Battery Into Space
The move opens the door to enhancing space battery performance for the future.
On June 20, Forge Nano, a surface engineering and precision nano-coating technology company, launched its high-energy, Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries into orbit aboard the SpaceX Transporter-2 rideshare mission, the firm announced Tuesday. The batteries are unique for their Particle Atomic Layer Deposition (PALD) technology, which can produce benefits such as longer cycle life, lower gas generation and higher voltage utilization.
“These new US-made batteries pave the way for a fully integrated US battery supply chain at a critical time in the domestication of the battery industry,” said Mark Matthews, senior vice president, specialty global at EnerSys, whose Zero Volt technology was used in the batteries.
Normally, batteries have unwanted reactions as they are stored or used which degrade their performance. The Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) process can be used to coat electrode powders and batteries with materials that reduce the frequency of such reactions.
The batteries launched aboard the SpaceX rocket were used in Spire Global’s LEMUR-2 satellite and integrated PALD technology as well as 100 percent domestically-sourced electrode materials from Pyrotek and Forge Nano.
“This is the first ALD-enabled space battery we know of and it’s mostly made with US materials!” said Paul Lichty, CEO of Forge Nano. “As world leaders in battery materials, we’re excited to be pushing limits of performance for various applications including space. This partnership with EnerSys, Pyrotek, and Spire Global is just one of many commercial battery projects we’re working on, and we look forward to sharing these other projects with the world soon.”
Forge Nano’s founders developed the PALD coating process while at the University of Colorado Boulder. PALD is applicable and cost-effective for most cathodes, anodes, separators, and solid-state battery materials.
The recently launched batteries will be electrically cycled in orbit at specific Depth of Discharge levels to determine their electrical performance in a space environment as part of the battery qualification process.
“By integrating the various parties’ technologies into Spire’s LEMUR-2 satellite, we are able to gather relevant performance data in a spaceflight application and advance the use of this technology more broadly within the space industry,” said Keith E. Johnson, Vice President and General Manager, Federal at Spire Global.