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Energy harvesting for a Moon base

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty


A team of students from the University of Strathclyde in Scotland is developing power harvesting, storage and distribution technologies for a base on the Moon.

PowerHab is the only team from the UK in the pan-European IGLUNA 2020 initiative bringing together multidisciplinary students from across the globe to build solutions for a theoretical space habitat.

The competition, now in its second year, is coordinated by the Swiss Space Centre. It covers the habitat conception and construction to life support systems, communication and navigation, power management, as well as human wellbeing and science. The purpose of IGLUNA 2020 is to demonstrate technologies capable of supporting a human-crewed lunar base, including remote operation.

The Powerhab team has developed a prototype demonstrator of a microwave wireless power transmission system to transfer harvested energy from a solar satellite to the Moon base. It is also developing a battery management system (BMS) that will provide accurate voltage, current, power and temperature readings as well as state of charge and state of health judgements.

The BMS will follow a distributed large format architecture comprising of responder modules responsible for the voltage, current and temperature readings, and controller modules responsible for the state of charge and state of health of the battery. Each responder module will also contain an active cell balancing circuit which performs charge redistribution, ensuring the charge of each cell is uniform across the battery pack, and preventing cell overcharge.

PowerHab is one of 15 teams across 10 countries and is backed by distributor RS Components. “We’re delighted to support the PowerHab team with their fascinating project to develop practical solutions to create a habitable, safe lunar environment, and we’ve really enjoyed following their progress. IGLUNA is an exciting project that offers students an opportunity to participate in an international, collaborative, multidisciplinary project on a visionary space topic,” said Isabella Mascarenhas, VP Grass Roots at RS Components,

“Sponsorship such as this has been crucial to the success of our project, as it has allowed us to develop prototypes to the best of our abilities,” said Finlay Rowe from PowerHab. “This partnership has helped us by providing off the shelf components and lab equipment, without which prototype manufacturing would not have been possible.”

All of the participating teams were due to gather in Switzerland this week to demonstrate their projects. Due to COVID-19 restrictions this has been replaced by an online event, currently in progress from 10–19 July.

The PowerHab team will present their prototypes as part of this ‘virtual field campaign’ at 10:00 BST on Thursday 16 July (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wWzNeqLN21Q&feature=youtu.be)

To watch the PowerHab presentation, or any of the remaining live-streamed events at IGLUNA 2020, visit the Swiss Space Center to find out more https://www.spacecenter.ch/igluna/.

https://uk.rs-online.com/web/.

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