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Nickel-Hydrogen Storage Batteries

Since 1986 Saturn PJSC has been developing and manufacturing storage batteries of Nickel-Hydrogen electrochemical system. Since that time more than 100 spacecraft have been equipped with more than 250 batteries.

The company participates in the majority of Russian space programs and in several foreign programs. Among the most famous are: "Resource-DK", "Ekran", "Electro-L", "Phobos-Grunt", "GLONASS", "Spectr-R", a series of "Express" spacecraft, series of "Yamal" spacecraft, "SESAT", "Interball-1, 2" and others. The storage batteries are supplied to firms in Germany, France, China, and Kazakhstan.

SB type Voltage, V Capacity, А·h Mass, kg Specific energy, W·h/kg Orbit type Cooling type Control elements
19NiH-25 24 27 14 46 LEO Contact CPS, RT, BD
28NiH-40 35 45 27.5 51 LEO, GEO Radiation APS, RT, BD, EH
18NiH-50 22 55 26 48 TSB CPS APS, RT, BD
20NiH-35 25 30 14.8 51 LEO Liquid UKZA, TS
28NiH-50 35 53 37 50 HCO Gas APS, RT, BD
28NiH-70 35 72 48.5 52 GEO Liquid CPS, APS, RT, BD
28NiH-70Р 35 72 54 46 LEO Liquid CPS, APS, RT,BD
30NiH-70 37 72 55 49 HEO TSB CPS, APS, RT,BD
30NiH-70А 37 72 65 42 LEO TSB APS, RT,BD
40NiH-70 50 72 72 50 GEO Liquid CPS, APS, RT, KZOD, BD
40NiH-70 50 72 73 49 HEO Liquid CPS, APS, RT,BD, R
18NiH-80 22 80 34 53 GEO Radiation APS, RT,BD, EH, R
17NiH-90 21 90 48 40 LEO Radiation APS, RT,BD
27NiH-110 32 105 70.7 48 GEO Radiation APS, Т, BD, EH
40NiH-35 49 33 28.5 57 GEO Radiation APS, RT,BD, EH, R
34NiH-50 47 47 35 58 HEO Radiation EH, APS, RT, BD
27NiH-100 32 95 68 45 GEO Radiation EH, APS, Т, BD
30NiH-100 36 95 75 46 GEO Radiation EH, APS, Т, BD
18NiH-70 29.4 84 34.6 55 LEO TSB EH, APS, Т, BD
26NiH-100 39.5 112.5 69.6 55 LEO TSB EH, APS, Т, BD
17NiH-48 28.6 58 27.1 49 LEO TSB EH, APS, Т, BD
17NiH-95 28.6 105
49.8 48 LEO ATCS APS, Т, BD
60NiH-40 100 41 50.4 59  HEO TSB APS, Т, BD, R
18NiH-120К 29.4 110 48 52  GEO ATCS EH, APS, Т, BD, R

SB Management

The main function of SB control algorithm is to ensure maximum state of charge before the beginning of discharge in eclipse at minimal overcharging, in particular, when the given daily thermal balance is observed. For optimal management the indications of the following devices are used:

  • Analog pressure sensors;
  • Contact pressure sensors of discrete type (as redundant ones);
  • Resistance thermometers;
  • Cell voltage indications.

In some spacecraft during standard charge, transition to SB trickle charge is possible, when the pressure in the controlling NiH cells reaches values corresponding to threshold ones at the given temperature. After test cycle threshold settings may be corrected.

Moreover, SB management allows performing reconditioning cycles (if necessary); for this purpose discharge resistors are included in some storage batteries.

To reduce the cable network of the spacecraft, some SBs may have built-in units for initial processing of data on SB state.

SB Reliability

Storage battery reliability is ensured by the redundancy of:

  • NiH2 cells (by means of bypass diodes or short-circuiters of single action);
  • Contact pressure sensors, analog pressure sensors, resistance thermometers;
  • Electrical wiring.

Thus, any cell failure does not lead to SB failure, which is confirmed by many years’ experience. SB reliability is also ensured by comprehensive qualification (including life tests) and strict in-manufacturing control.

Mechanical Interface

In all battery configurations (except batteries with gas cooling - 28NH-45 and 28NH-60) the battery housing is a monoblock, ensuring its high strength and allowing battery fastening in several points along the perimeter, and not over the surface of the baseplate.

When NiH2 cells are mounted in individual heat dissipating sleeves, the load is on the heat dissipating baseplate, to which the sleeves are mounted. Thus, monoblock configuration differs from the sleeve one by the possibility of its use as the load-bearing element in the spacecraft structure.

At the same time, if the operating conditions are thermally intensive, and it is necessary to increase battery radioactive surface, sleeve type battery is possible to manufacture, in which NiH2 cells in heat dissipating sleeves are dispersed on SC heat dissipating basement of the required area.

Thermal Interface

Heat dissipation from NiH2 cells is realized through the battery housing:

  • To its perimeter, and then to the spacecraft housing;
  • To side surfaces of the storage battery housing or to its bottom.

Electrodes’ stack, consisting of several electro-chemical groups, is clamped between two metallic bridges.

Electrodes’ stack location in NiH2 cell depends on heat dissipation profile in the storage battery.

Cell pressure vessel is made of EP-915 alloy. The sufficient strength margin of the pressure vessel is selected to ensure the required amount of loading cycles. Calculated safety factor for cycles is 3.

Nickel-Hydrogen Cells developed by Saturn PJSC:

  • have high specific energy up to 95 W·h/kg;
  • have virtually unlimited lifetime: 15 years in GEO and 10 years in LEO are guaranteed;
  • have high degree of development: the total flight time is more than 400 million cell-hours;
  • are operable in a wide temperature range: from -20 °C to 40 °C;
  • are resistant to overcharge and overdischarge;
  • have small internal resistance: are discharged by currents up to 2C.

Basic Specifications of Nickel-Hydrogen Cells by Saturn PJSC

Type of NiH cells Rated capacity, А·h Specific energy, W·h/kg Use in the SB Use in the spacecraft
27 50 19NiH-25 Gonetz
NiH-35 30 65 40NiH-35 Luch-5
NiH-40 45
75 28NiH-40 Monitor, Dialog
NiH-40L 41 75 60NiH-40 Luch-5А
NiH-45L 56 84 34NiH-50 Glonass
NiH-50 54 66 28NiH-50 Glonass
NiH-55 63 70 18NiH-50 Phobos-Grunt
NiH-70K 72 75 40NiH-70 SESAT, Express-АМ
NiH-70E 72
75 28NiH-70, 28NiH-70R,
28NiH-70P, 30NiH-70,
Express -А, Resource-DK, Arkon-2
NiH-80 89
77 18NiH-80 KazSat
NiH-90 90
80 17NiH-90 BelKA
NiH-95М 102
86 17NiH-95 TIPS
NiH-110 105
70 27NiH-110 APSTAR-VI
NiH-120К 115
72 18NiH-120К KazSat-2
NiH-120 130
80 18NiH-100 Yamal-200
NiH-140 161
90 18NiH-120 Yamal-300

Capacity range, А·h 8…25 20...40 40...60 60...140
Overall dimensions (D×L), mm Ø40*(80...120) Ø76*(125…190) Ø76*(190…215) Ø96*(215…340)
Variant of manufacturing А, B B, D А, B, D, E B, D, Е, F
Thread dimension for terminals + М4*0,75 М6*0,75 М6*0,75 М8*1,0
Thread dimension for terminals - Housing Housing, М6*0,75 Housing, М6*0,75 М8*1,0

Electrochemical Group of the Nickel-Hydrogen Cell

Nickel-Oxide Electrode (NOE) is an electro-chemically impregnated Nickel-fiber substrate.

The structure of NOE provides the following:

  • Discharge by current up to 2С;
  • Practically unlimited lifetime;
  • Insignificant corrosion;
  • No swelling of NOE is observed after run cycles.

Hydrogen electrode (HE) is hydrophobizated, with Pt-Pd catalyst on Nickel ceramic-metal substrate.

HE power provides the following:

  • A closed Oxygen cycle at О2 concentration less than 1 %;
  • A closed Hydrogen cycle at the required excess voltages.

Separator – asbestos matrix.
Gas screen – polypropylene.