Low Cost Automated Manufacture of High Efficiency THINS ZTJ PV Blanket Technology (P-NASA12-007)

Award Information
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Branch: N/A
Contract: NNX13CC49P
Agency Tracking Number: 124051
Amount: $124,311.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2013
Solicitation Year: 2012
Solicitation Topic Code: H8.04
Solicitation Number: N/A
Small Business Information
Vanguard Space Technologies, Inc.
CA, San Diego, CA, 92126-4336
DUNS: 838266369
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Nicholas Walmsley
 Principal Investigator
 (858) 587-4210
Business Contact
 Steven Sherman
Title: VP, Contracts-Bus Development
Phone: (858) 587-4210
Email: ssherman@vst-inc.com
Research Institution
NASA needs lower cost solar arrays with high performance for a variety of missions. While high efficiency, space-qualified solar cells are in themselves costly,>$250/Watt, there is considerable additional cost associated with the parts and labor needed to integrate the Photovoltaic Assembly. The standard approach has evolved with only minor changes, sacrificing cost because of risk aversion. Integration cost can be as much as double the bare cell cost?i.e.>$500/watt. Dramatic cost savings can be realized through manufacturing engineering of more efficient automated assembly processes. If the design of the Photovoltaic Assembly could be modified to be compatible with conventional and automatable electronic assembly and terrestrial solar panel assembly approaches, there could be considerable cost savings. There are many additional benefits with automation which include higher quality and consistency. This can reduce failures, increase production throughput, speed turnaround, and improve overall reliability. Cost and quality improvements can be realized on both thin and rigid arrays, increasing current capabilities, and enabling future high power missions. The benefits of automation are enhanced by the need for high power generation in support of energy intensive space missions. A 300kW array at $500/W would cost $150M just for the solar cell integrated array panels. A $150/W cell integration cost reduction would translate into savings of $45M, before considering the immediate and substantial benefits in consistency, reliability, and schedule. The Phase I effort demonstrates feasibility of a low cost array using an automated and integrated manufacturing approach, performed on an automation friendly solar cell, verified with environmental testing, and is used to predict array cost for a high power mission. Meeting these technical objectives will demonstrate reduced cost and justify a Phase II SBIR program preparing for a flight experiment.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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