YSU Receives NASA Grant to Develop 3D-Printed Batteries

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center has awarded the chemical engineering program at Youngstown State University a $393,000 grant to conduct a project surrounding the production of 3D printed batteries.

Pedro Cortes, YSU professor of materials science and engineering, is leading the project at the university. 

It’s the second award from NASA in just over two years for the YSU program. It previously received a grant to advance research aimed at creating 3D-printed high-temperature sensors, also led by Cortes.

The award will help fund the development of sodium batteries, as opposed to lithium, and upgrade technology used for production. 

“Right now, most batteries are made of lithium, and this metal is scarce in outer space,” said Sina Bakhtar Chavari, a YSU doctorate student focusing on materials science engineering. “We are working to use sodium, which is much more plentiful in space and will be more readily available for future developments.”

In addition to changing the battery material, Bakhtar Chavari and his team are also looking into moving away from the two-dimensional component printing process for the production of the battery itself typically used for lithium batteries, and studying a more complex and intricate three-dimensional printing process to also accommodate for a sodium-built battery.

“Because we are currently operating with lithium battery technology, we need to update all areas of the production to function with sodium,” Bakhtar Chavari said. “As a result, we are working to make this update in the printing process, using digital light processing, or DLP, for a higher resolution.”

The evolving architectures will yield batteries with superior electrical performance, giving them more power and energy.

Working alongside Cortes and Bakhtar Chavari is Bharat Yelamanchi, lecturer for the YSU Rayen School of Engineering and the University of Texas at El Paso, collaborating on the battery production, processing and running mechanical tests.

“This innovative project paves the way towards in-space/on-surface development of free-form energy storage devices for applications in Lunar/Martian habitats,” Cortes said.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.