Argotec has been selected by ESA to design the first battery passivation system for MicroSats, “EREBUS”.
The project is part of the ESA Advanced Research in Telecommunications (ARTES) programme and will result in a system that can passivate all small telecommunications satellites. Argotec will lead the project, design and test the electronics. Their collaborator, ABSL, will research the best way of passivating the latest generation of high-performance lithium-ion batteries used in satellites.
Thanks to EREBUS, the battery passivation system will ensure that, at the end of a satellite’s life, the energy stored in the battery is depleted and that the satellite is permanently switched off. Currently, MicroSats do not include a battery passivation system. Typically, their low earth orbits mean that they will re-enter and burn up in Earth’s atmosphere in a couple of years. However, MicroSats are becoming more complex and are being placed in higher orbits with longer lifespans so the need for a passivation system will become essential to ensure that space debris is not created at the end of each MicroSat’s life. To ensure widespread adoption of a battery passivation system several key challenges must be solved: the system must be reliable, very compact, low mass, and low cost.