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Smart grid technology could help astronauts explore deep space, says Battelle

Steve Rogerson
July 14, 2015
 
Smart grid technology can help astronauts safely explore deep space, according to work conducted by Ohio-based Battelle for Nasa’s Glenn Research Centre.
 
Battelle and its teammate Elequant, the US subsidiary of Spanish firm Grupo AIA (Aplicaciones en Informática Avanzada, or Advanced Computing Applications), have submitted a final report on the technology, which was met with ratings that exceeded the space agency’s expectations.
 
The patented HELM (holomorphic embedding load-flow method) algorithm can increase the reliability and operation of both deep-space manned missions beyond Mars, as well as terrestrial applications to the all-electric passenger aircraft that are on design boards now.
 
The technology would help pilots in spacecraft who are not operational power engineers. So the need for intelligent, fault-tolerant autonomous control of the spacecraft power management and distribution system is paramount for deep space missions.
 
The technology mathematically guarantees stable operation of the power system and, should an electrical fault occur, can chart a solution to the problem from power failure to recovery, leaving astronauts to perform other important tasks.
 
The second phase of the Nasa contract calls for a test of the approach on an Earth-bound microgrid representing a deep space module’s power system. The potential answer for deep space power safety and reliability is designed to prevent blackouts on Earth and has been marketed and sold to North American power suppliers.