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Center Innovation Fund: ARC CIF

Miniaturized Power Processing Unit Study: A Cubesat Electric Propulsion Technology Enabler

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

This study evaluates High Voltage Power Processing Unit (PPU) technology and driving requirements necessary to enable the Microfluidic Electric Propulsion technology research and development by NASA and university partners.  This study provides an overview of the state of the art PPU technology with recommendations for technology demonstration projects and missions for NASA to pursue.

This study investigates the technical requirements and potential solutions for miniaturized High Voltage Power Processing Units with the objective of enabling Microfluidic Electric Propulsion (MEP) thrusters for cubesats and large missions.

For the long term evolvement of Electric Propulsion thrusters, Power Processing Units need to significantly reduce the mass, volume, and thermal properties.   This will allow for usage of these thrusters from the micro down to pico-sized satellites, and enable long duration missions. Enabling the thruster technology will increase mission capabilities requiring orbital maneuvers including attitude control, spin, orbital inclination changes, de-orbiting, orbital transfers, swarm and formation flying.

The study focuses on the trade space to develop the Key Performance Requirements (KPRs) for the Power Processing Units and evaluates them against the current state of the art for technical feasibility. Topics investigated include:

  • Mass
  • Volume
  • High Voltage parts evaluation
  • Power Budget
  • Output Power
  • Number of control channels
  • Modularity
  • Scalability
  • Operational modes
  • Reliability
  • Radiation Tolerance
  • Power Efficiency
  • Interfaces
  • Cost
  • Vendor Parts Availability
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Anticipated Benefits

Primary U.S. Work Locations and Key Partners

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Project Duration

Technology Maturity (TRL)

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This is a historic project that was completed before the creation of TechPort on October 1, 2012. Available data has been included. This record may contain less data than currently active projects.