Shaping the future.

Battery models for future spaceflight

Linda Bolay is a mathematician at the Institute of Engineering Thermodynamics in Ulm. Together with her team she works on a model for testing satellite batteries.

Satellites support crucial navigation and Earth observation systems. Precise satellite positioning is vital for numerous technologies, from land surveying to automated driving. Earth observation data also helps us understand how the world is changing and enables us to take informed decisions. While flying through space satellites need reliable batteries for their control systems, sensors, cameras and other equipment. To help address the challenges presented by our changing world, I am developing a model that will precisely simulate the chemical and physical processes in satellite batteries in order to speed up battery testing processes.

I’m accelerating the development of lithium-ion batteries for space

Linda Bolay is developing battery models with her team

Like all spaceflight components, batteries for satellites must function extremely safely and reliably. Once in space, they cannot be fixed or replaced. They are also exposed to extreme temperatures. Before launch, the batteries are therefore extensively tested in the laboratory or on test stands, often over several years.

At my institute, we are researching how we can accelerate these tests for a wide range of battery storage systems using theory-based models. Through the DLReps project, I am developing a model that precisely describes the chemical and physical processes in the batteries. It is part of the cross-sectoral GigaStore project, which combines the latest findings regarding battery development and energy storage simulation from 11 DLR institutes. The individual teams are working on the further development of electricity and heat storage systems for every area of application.

Interaction with other researchers aids my progress

We meet regularly to coordinate requirements and update the status of the project. I have also presented my research to the international scientific community at six conferences. The feedback and exchange I have with other researchers about my work aids my progress.
 

My simulation will soon be able to accurately predict the condition of a battery

My model, programmed in MATLAB, is designed to determine charge level and battery health based solely on telemetry data – specifically, temperature, voltage and current. I use existing theoretical models and compare them with data acquired by the Japanese satellite REIMEI, which I receive from the Japanese space agency JAXA. I also use the results of experiments that my colleagues in Stuttgart conduct for me.

How will batteries for spaceflight be tested in the future? Instead of campaigns lasting several years, just a handful of experiments are needed to obtain the basic data for the model. We may even be able to influence battery lifetime, enabling adjustments to the mission and additional manoeuvres. In any case, we will be able to send satellites into space faster and more economically – I am therefore helping to shape future spaceflight at DLR.

Would you like to shape the future with us? You can find the current job advertisements of our Institute of Engineering Thermodynamics here.

 

Like Linda Bolay, all researchers at DLR  pursue their tasks with curiosity and passion every day. They are free to focus all their energy on research and carry out pioneering work in the areas of aeronautics, space, energy, transport, security and digitalisation. 

What do our researchers value at DLR?

  • a personnel policy that offers equal opportunities and is family-friendly
  • flexible working time models and 30 days annual leave
  • further education, communication and leadership training 
  • comprehensive services for childcare and dependents in need of care, provided by an external cooperation partner
  • a management culture based on respect

Would you like to bring your expertise and innovative drive to DLR? You can find our current job advertisements here.

 

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DLR Institute of Engineering Thermodynamics

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