Beacon Power Corporation which designs and develops advanced products and services to support more stable and reliable electricity grid operation, has been awarded a contract through the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), and co-funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) of the U.S. Department of Defense. The contract, valued at $750,000, is for the preliminary design of a space-based flywheel energy storage system for satellite applications, and is a Phase II award under the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program of the U.S. Small Business Administration's Office of Technology. Beacon announced completion of an associated Phase I project earlier this year.
Flywheel energy storage systems have the potential to be used in a variety of space-based applications, including providing power to low-earth-orbit satellites during the 30 minutes these satellites orbit in darkness and their solar panels cannot provide power. Compared to electro-chemical (battery) alternatives, a flywheel-based system is expected to be more reliable, have a much longer life, be able to be charged and discharged constantly, and deliver higher performance even under extreme temperatures, all significant advantages for space applications.
"We're very pleased to receive this contract from the AFRL and DARPA," said Bill Capp, Beacon Power President and CEO. "This project is not only an important step toward expanding the applications for flywheels, it will also help us develop key technical innovations that can reduce the cost of future commercial systems. Our primary focus continues to be the development of systems for power grid frequency regulation, based on our Smart Energy Matrix design. I believe that the work associated with this project holds significant promise for further commercial applications of our technology, both on the ground and in space."
Under terms of the contract, Beacon will lead a 15-month technical effort involving researchers and scientists from Goodrich Space Flight Systems, Optical and Space Systems Division, Goodrich Corporation; Purdue University; and Texas A&M University.