ADA Technologies, Inc. (ADA) received a $100,000 contract from the Air Force Research Laboratory to develop an advanced Lithium-Polymer (LiPo) battery for use in miniaturized hybrid power systems for micro air vehicles (MAVs).
Rapid advancements in micro/nano technologies for MAV components, including actuators, flight control systems, sensors, and on-board data processors, are enabling a new breed of extremely small and lightweight MAVs. The tiny MAVs, some as small as insects, are in high demand due to their numerous military, commercial and scientific applications; however, progress has been hampered by the lack of a robust on-board power system.
ADA's new hybrid-power device is based on utilizing nanostructured electrodes and environmentally friendly electrolytes to develop an advanced LiPo battery that is capable of operating in both high-power and high-energy modes, thus eliminating the need for two separate devices.
According to Wen Lu, Ph.D., ADA project manager, "Current hybrid power systems rely on pairing a fuel cell or high energy lithium-ion battery with a high power device, such as an ultracapacitor. Because two separate devices are needed to provide power, this type of system is impractical for use on MAVs where space and weight restrictions are critical."
The lightest-weight LiPo batteries currently available don't provide sufficient energy and power densities and impose a variety of operational limitations that are unacceptable for MAV power systems.
"ADA's new technology will allow for substantial greater range, endurance and maneuverability for this highly volume- and mass-constrained class of vehicles," said Doug Campbell, R&D program manager. "Specific attributes include increased power and energy densities, longer lifecycle and storage life, increased safety and reduced weight."