The overall objective of Micro Energetic Pilot Project Workshop is to examine the feasibility of setting up a for-profit company to develop Micro and Nano Technology (MNT) products for power generation and micro propulsion applications in close collaboration with end-users in aerospace industry, defense related sciences, and civilian applications. With respect to this overall objective, the workshop shall discuss enabling and disruptive technologies, and business opportunities leading to a pilot project for developing the MNT-based micropropulsion and micro batteries for aerospace and defense applications.

The CANEUS 2006 Conference provides a unique and wonderful opportunity to showcase these technologies for the first time. It is hoped that at the end of the two-day Project Workshop, we will be able to provide answers for the following key issues relevant for the feasibility study:

  • The Addressable Market and List of Competitors for MNT-based Micro energetic devices
  • Barrier to Entry for competitive efforts
  • Formation of Consortia aimed at developing these innovative product

Micropropulsion development for ACS is an active field of research. MEMS-based micro thrusters provide low mass and low power solutions for meeting the stringent requirements for micro spacecraft ACS, and for delta-v manoeuvres, drag compensation and orbit adjustment. MEMS-based micro propulsion components and systems also offer several advantages in terms of size, performance and integration ability. There are several ongoing developments involving the fabrication of MEMS based micro thrusters and hybrid micro thrusters, such as resistor jets, solid propellant thrusters, bi/mono-propellant micro thrusters, hall micro thrusters, field emission micro thrusters, colloid micro thrusters, pulsed plasma micro thrustesr, vaporizing liquid micro thrusters, micro ion thrusters, and cold/hot-gas micro thrusters. All of these thrusters, except for vaporizing liquid micro thrusters, operate at output thrust levels in the range of several µN. In recent years the focus has turned to the development of fully-integration micropropulsion systems that are essentially complete “smart” platforms including sensors, energy generation, data storage and transmission capabilities. Micro GPS smart guidance modules are also of interest for defense applications.

For space applications in particular, efficient power generation and storage is a critical issue. Consequently, there has been increasing demand for the development of miniaturized power supply modules, either for driving microelectronics and sensors, or for extending the capabilities of current miniaturised systems. Energy scavenging systems are becoming more attractive, particularly for long-duration missions. Ideally a good combination of an electrical power generator coupled with an energy storage system such as a rechargeable battery is desired. Given the stringent environmental constraints of the space environment, the need for reliable, low self-discharge and high energy density batteries working over a wide range of temperature, has been identified.
Secondary storage batteries based on Li-ion technology have been shown to be very attractive both in terms of energy and power density. Continued technological progress on Li-ion cells has led to the achievement of 180Wh/kg of energy densities and 2kW/kg of power densities. In addition, Li-ion batteries usually offer very good cyclability, high efficiency (>95%) and low self-discharge, all of which make them very good candidates for fulfilling most requirements for space applications.

In this Project Workshop, the feasibility of creating an MNT-based micropropulsion system for guidance and attitude control systems (ACS) and an MNT-based energy storage system are examined.