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Posted: July 31, 2009
Rusnano invests in manufacture of solar batteries for spacecrafts
(Nanowerk News) The Supervisory Council of RUSNANO has approved a joint venture project with Research-Production Enterprise NPP KVANT for the manufacture of solar batteries for spacecrafts.
The project will produce gallium arsenide-based solar batteries for satellites and space stations, with battery efficiency increased from 15 to 32% compared to silicon-based batteries. The new batteries are made up of three-junction solar cells consisting of up to 30 interleaving layers, each measuring 10-15 nm in thickness.
The batteries will be fully compliant with the requirements of global spacecraft manufacturers for solar power systems. The energy conversion efficiency of these batteries in space environment is estimated at 30% with an operational life of 15 years, making them competitive with the best designs available in the global market. The product’s high quality is complemented by a competitive price resulting from the lower production cost of solar photocells versus similar foreign imports.
To date, Russia does not manufacture its own multi-junction solar cells based on gallium arsenide. At the same time, state policy for space industry development stipulates that solar batteries for Russian spacecrafts should be manufactured in Russia. Both enterprises specializing in solar battery assembly (NPP KVANT and SATURN) currently import gallium arsenide solar cells from abroad. Thus, successful implementation of this project will help to achieve a vital goal for the national space industry – the establishment of its own complete production cycle for state-of-the-art solar batteries for spacecraft, significantly reducing its dependency on foreign imports.
Aleksandr Kondrashov, RUSNANO Managing Director, emphasized that this project aims for the protection of Russia’s interests in the space exploration program. Additionally, it provides a marked economic value, as solar cells (currently 100% imported from abroad) make up 70% of the cost of space solar batteries.
RUSNANO will provide NPP KVANT with a long-term loan of 550 million rubles for a period of five years. JSC Information Satellite Systems – Reshetnev Company, primary consumer of the project products, will also contribute a loan of 50 million rubles to fund the project.
Production will be set up in Moscow as an extension of NPP KVANT with the first products being released to the market in 2009 already. Target capacity is expected to be reached in 2012 with the production of solar cells measuring 240 m2. NPP KVANT has already signed contracts with several buyers to supply gallium arsenide solar batteries for the period of 2009 - 2016, covering 60% of products to be manufactured by the enterprise during this timeframe. Foreign spacecraft manufacturers are also considered to be potential consumers.
Research-Production Enterprise KVANT (Joint Stock Company), established in 2007, is a successor of Research-Production Enterprise KVANT (Federal State Enterprise) and is one of the enterprises subordinate to the RF Federal Space Agency (Roskosmos). NPP KVANT’s primary business is space photovoltaics. NPP Kvant is a leading organization in Russia in the field of development and manufacture of solar cells based on various semiconductor materials, as well as in the field of design, manufacture, testing, and provision of solar battery capacity for spacecrafts.