Advanced temperature control techniques developed for future NASA missions may also find applications in the electric vehicle industry, providing greater heat transfer capabilities and thus higher charging power levels.

Many of NASA’s future space missions will involve complex systems that must maintain specific temperatures to operate. Nuclear fission power systems and vapor compression heat pumps expected to be used to support missions to the Moon and Mars will require enhanced heat transfer capabilities.

A NASA-sponsored research team is developing a new technology that “will not only allow for an order-of-magnitude improvement in heat transfer to allow these systems to maintain appropriate temperatures in space, but also allow for significant reductions in the size and weight of the equipment.” .”

It certainly sounds like something that might come in handy for high-powered DC charging stations.

A team led by Purdue University professor Issam Mudawar developed the Boiling and Condensation Experiment (FBCE) to allow two-phase fluid flow and heat transfer experiments in microgravity on the International Space Station.

As NASA explains: β€œThe Flow Boiling Module FBCE includes heat-releasing devices installed along the walls of the flow channel into which the coolant is fed in liquid form. When these devices heat up, the temperature of the liquid in the channel increases, and eventually the liquid adjacent to the walls begins to boil. The boiling liquid forms small bubbles on the walls, which move away from the walls at a high frequency, constantly attracting liquid from the inner region of the channel to the walls of the channel. This process transfers heat efficiently by taking advantage of both the lower liquid temperature and the subsequent phase change from liquid to vapor. This process is greatly facilitated if the fluid supplied to the channel is in a supercooled state (ie, well below its boiling point). This one is new supercooled boiling stream The technique results in significantly improved heat transfer efficiency compared to other approaches.”

FBCE was delivered to the ISS in August 2021 and began providing microgravity flow boiling data in early 2022.

Recently, the Mudawar team applied FBCE principles to the charging process of electric vehicles. Using this new technology, a dielectric (non-conductive) liquid coolant is pumped through the charging cable, where it traps the heat generated by the current-carrying conductor. Supercooled flow boiling allowed the equipment to remove up to 24.22 kW of heat. The team says its charging system can deliver up to 2,400 amps of current.

It is an order of magnitude more powerful than the 350 or 400 kW that today’s most powerful car CCS chargers can muster. If the FBCE-inspired charging system can be demonstrated on a commercial scale, it will be in the same class as the Megawatt Charging System, which is the most powerful EV charging standard developed (that we know of). The MCS is rated for a maximum current of 3,000 amps at up to 1,250 V β€” a potential peak power of 3,750 kW (3.75 MW). At the demonstration in June, prototype MCS charger with a capacity of more than one MW.

Source: NASA
Image: NASA Glenn Research Center)