NanoRacks-Desert Christian High School-Microgravity Effects on Graphene Based Supercapacitors Experiment (NanoRacks-DCHS-Microgravity Effects on Graphene Based Supercapacitors) - 09.27.17

Overview | Description | Applications | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
Although large-capacity batteries have become smaller and more efficient in recent years, they still take a long time to discharge and recharge; next-generation technologies like supercapacitors are needed to store large amounts of energy and recharge quickly. Graphene, a single-atom-thick sheet of carbon, is a promising material for supercapacitor electrodes. NanoRacks-Desert Christian High School-Microgravity Effects on Graphene Based Supercapacitors Experiment (NanoRacks-DCHS-Microgravity Effects on Graphene Based Supercapacitors) studies how microgravity affects the longevity of graphene-based supercapacitors of various sizes.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by Allen Parker, and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Experiment Details

OpNom: NanoRacks Module-22 S/N 1003

Principal Investigator(s)
Desert Christian High School , Desert Christian High School, Lancaster, CA, United States

Co-Investigator(s)/Collaborator(s)
Allen Parker, NASA Armstrong, Palmdale, CA, United States

Developer(s)
Desert Christian High School, Lancaster, CA, United States
NanoRacks, LLC, Webster, TX, United States

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
National Laboratory Education (NLE)

Research Benefits
Earth Benefits, Space Exploration

ISS Expedition Duration
March 2015 - March 2016

Expeditions Assigned
43/44,45/46

Previous Missions
Information Pending

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • For the last couple of decades, industry has been looking to supercapacitors to fill the void for applications that exist between traditional battery applications and capacitor applications.
  • Among capacitors, the supercapacitor can retain the most energy per unit volume or mass and tolerate more charge/discharge cycles than batteries.
  • Most supercapacitors to date, are manufactured using activated carbon as their electrodes, not because of its electrical conductivity, but because of its high specific surface area.  
  • Graphene based electrodes used for supercapacitors have a much higher electrical conductivity and surface area than activated carbon.
  • NanoRacks-Desert Christian High School-Microgravity Effects on Graphene Based Supercapacitors Experiment (NanoRacks-DCHS-Microgravity Effects on Graphene Based Supercapacitors) studies the microgravity effects on multiple Graphene-based supercapacitors, varying in size and separator material type and their longevity in microgravity as opposed to earth gravity.

Description
NanoRacks-Desert Christian High School-Microgravity Effects on Graphene Based Supercapacitors Experiment (NanoRacks-DCHS-Microgravity Effects on Graphene Based Supercapacitors) is a study of the microgravity effects on graphene-based supercapacitors. Among capacitors, the supercapacitor retains the most energy per unit volume or mass and tolerates more charge/discharge cycles than batteries. In contrast to traditional rechargeable batteries, the supercapacitor exhibits shorter charge/discharge cycles as a result of their power density.  Most supercapacitors to date, are manufactured using activated carbon as their electrodes, not because of its electrical conductivity, which is 0.003% that of metallic conductivity, but because of its high specific surface area.  Graphene is a one-atom thick sheet of graphite, with atoms arranged in a regular hexagonal pattern.  Graphene based electrodes used for supercapacitors have a much higher electrical conductivity than activated carbon by as much as two orders of magnitude and a surface area almost three times that of activated carbon, which could theoretically lead to a capacitor of 550 F/g.  The experiment includes 8 supercapacitors, varying in size and separator material type and conducts multiple charge/discharge cycles (>10,000) to determine longevity in microgravity as opposed to earth gravity.  Each supercapacitor has its own common charge/discharge circuit.  Each is composed of a substrate material, LightScribe graphene, separator and electrolyte. Since multiple types of graphene-based supercapacitors are studied, different types of substrates and electrolytes are employed.  Throughout the life of the experiment (total number of cycles), performance parameters are evaluated, such as charge current, and voltage along with energy and power density.

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Applications

Space Applications

Batteries are the chief way in which spacecraft store and use energy; some are powered by the sun, and others are recharged by the warmth generated in radioactive decay. Capacitors can discharge and recharge faster than batteries, but cannot store as much energy. Supercapacitors are able to hold much more electrical charge than standard capacitors, and could therefore replace batteries for high-capacity energy storage. Graphene-based supercapacitors are smaller, more lightweight and more efficient than traditional supercapacitors, which use a different form of carbon. This investigation studies how microgravity affects the energy storage abilities of graphene-based supercapacitors, which could be used as a power supply for future spacecraft.
 

Earth Applications

Supercapacitors could power the next generation of electric vehicles, as well as other uses on Earth. Understanding the physical processes that affect their performance leads to better designs. In addition, students at Desert Christian High School in Lancaster, CA, designed this investigation, gaining real-world experience in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) concepts and developing a stronger connection to the space program.
 

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Operations

Operational Requirements and Protocols

Data collection within the experiment is automated; downlink is done via scheduled STELLA/NanoRacks command window intervals for the NanoRacks Platform.  Payload is ambient and soft-stowed, but late loaded (approximately L-72 hours) and an early return.

Crew interaction with NanoRacks Module-22 is limited to transferring the NanoRacks Module from the launch vehicle to the ISS, installing the Module into a NanoRacks Platform, activating the NanoRacks Platform, data retrieval (as needed) during the mission, and destowing and returning the Module.

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Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

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Results/More Information

Information Pending

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Related Websites
NanoRacks

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Imagery

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NanoRacks-DCHS-Microgravity Effects on Graphene Based Supercapacitors investigation team from Desert Christian High School, Lancaster, CA. Image courtesy of Desert Christian High School.

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NanoRacks-DCHS-Microgravity Effects on Graphene Based Supercapacitors investigation team student learning about some of the experiments on the International Space Station from a NASA Research Scientist at the American Society for Gravitational and Space Research (ASGSR) Conference. Image courtesy of Desert Christian High School.

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NanoRacks-DCHS-Microgravity Effects on Graphene Based Supercapacitors investigation student team member presenting the experiment to an attendee at the American Society for Gravitational and Space Research (ASGSR) Conference.  Image courtesy of Desert Christian High School.

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Desert Christian High School student fundraiser at a local restaurant in order to raise money for the NanoRacks-DCHS-Microgravity Effects on Graphene Based Supercapacitors project. Image courtesy of Desert Christian High School.

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