Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) announced on Friday that it has successfully flight-tested a futuristic fuel cell-based power system to assess its operation in space and to collect data to facilitate the design of systems for future missions.
The 100W class Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cell based Power System (FCPS) is in its orbital platform POEM3, launched onboard PSLV-C58 on January 1, along with India’s first X-ray Polarimeter Satellite (XPoSat).
According to the information available on ISRO’s website, the objective of the experiment was to assess the fuel cell operation in space and to collect data to facilitate the design of systems for future missions. During the short-duration test, the high-pressure vessels onboard the launch vehicle generated 180W power from Hydrogen and Oxygen gases.
The space agency said that the test provided data on the performance of various static and dynamic systems that formed part of the power system and the physics at play.
Hydrogen fuel cells also produce pure water, heat, and electricity directly from Hydrogen and Oxygen gases. ISRO noted that, as opposed to the combustion reactions employed in conventional generators, it is an electric generator that works on electrochemical principles, as in batteries.
According to the agency, the ability to produce electricity directly from fuels without any intermediate step renders it very efficient. With water as the only byproduct, it is emission-free.
All these features make the fuel cells ideal candidates for space missions involving humans where electric power, water and heat are essential since a single system can meet multiple requirements in the mission.