Research in Engineering and Aviation

Development of Payload Housing for Temperature and Pressure Control of Bio fuel Cells for Space Applications


Author(s): S. Jayaram

Journal: Journal of Engineering, Design and Technology, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp. 323-334, 2009. DOI: 10.1108/17260530910998712


Purpose – Alternative energy sources and power generation techniques for long-term space missions are gaining importance in recent years for future bases and colonies on the Moon or Mars. Current technologies used for manned or unmanned missions to the Moon or Mars use either solar panels (bulky, expensive/kilogram to space, and inefficient) or nuclear energy (extremely dangerous and unpopular). Enzyme based bio fuel cells can be used as alternative energy sources, but its survival depends on maintaining appropriate temperature and pressure in space. The purpose of this paper is to detail the concept design and development of a payload tank to house bio fuel cells for operations in space environment.

Design/methodology/approach – Details about the development of the design methodology for such housing are discussed. A full-scale payload tank is designed to house a small biological fuel cell using space grade materials. Requirements analysis, design, validation, and manufacturing process are covered.

Findings – The outcome is a dimensionally optimized housing structure for housing biological fuel cells and maintaining the temperature and pressure for survival of the fuel cell.

Originality/value – The designed payload housing satisfies all the constraints and requirements. Furthermore, its advantages include scalability and modularity by virtue of using optimized design approach. The final product provides a planned procedure for designing larger housing for other missions.