Evaluation of Commercial High Energy Lithium-Ion Cells for Aerospace Applications
In addition to the development of custom-made large-format cells, NASA is interested in the assessment of small-format cells for certain applications due to gains in energy density of commercial cells, in particular in the 18650 format. Several manufacturers now offer 18650 cells with specific energies greater than 200 Wh kg-1. However, these commercial cells are required to be validated for space missions, with extensive testing to demonstrate their performance, safety, reliability, and above all suitability for space environments. In addition, the use of small cells in large numbers, in contrast to custom-made large format cells, introduces additional requirements of cell-to-cell consistency to simplify their charge management.
In the present study, we have evaluated a number of commercial 18650 cells of varying capacities and manufacturers for possible future use in NASA deep space missions, including low temperature charge and discharge rate capability, cycle life and capacity retention over a range of temperatures, and tolerance to radiation exposure.
The work described herein was carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and supported by the NASA’s Europa Clipper Mission (ECM) project.
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