Supporting Clean and Renewable Energy Technologies
A greener future. A committed leader: Vaeros.
For more than five decades, The Aerospace Corporation has provided objective technical expertise, analysis, and assessments for global customers pursuing the most complex and innovative missions.
Vaeros, a division of The Aerospace Corporation, brings this rich resource of talent and technical capabilities to bear on multiple challenges in diverse, high-consequence environments.
Our commitment to programs and applications of national significance drives support for innovations and discoveries in renewable energy and clean technology arenas–ensuring customer success and a greener planet.
Innovation in space. Green technology on Earth.
Vaeros harnesses world-class expertise and extensive research and laboratory resources—honed from more than 50 years of focus on space systems—giving customers a valuable perspective on renewable energy and clean technology solutions.
At Vaeros, our interdisciplinary mix of scientists and engineers welcome unique and complex challenges to advance the technologies impacting several critical applications and endeavors, including:
- Renewable energy–wind, solar, and geothermal
- Solar cell and array expertise, testing, and validation
- Energy-efficient technologies
- Smart grid applications
- Energy storage–evaluation, testing, and design
- Development of green substitutes
- Hyperspectral sensors for air quality monitoring
- Hyperspectral sensors for environmental baseline studies
Improving air quality assessments to locate and identify fugitive emissions.
Vaeros teams have designed, developed, and operated hyperspectral sensors with increased sensitivity and discrimination capabilities to identify and image thousands of compounds and targets of interest. Our rich history and expertise conceptualizing, designing, testing, and operating hyperspectral sensors—as well as performing data processing, analysis, and imagery exploitation—can be applied to multiple industries, such as mining, oil and gas, agriculture, environmental assessments, manufacturing, and disaster response.
Solving Earth-observation challenges.
Vaeros’ goal is to apply our knowledge and expertise in active (laser) and passive (hyperspectral) remote sensing with sensor innovation, phenomenology, data analysis, and exploitation to support the civil and commercial sector, including the following types of Earth-observation challenges:
- Air quality assessments, including greenhouse gas inventories and climate change
- Weather observation and prediction
- Environmental assessments
- Natural resource assessments
- Industry applications (agriculture, pipeline monitoring, forestry, mining, geothermal, and oil and gas)
Our expertise translates into mission success across a wide range of programs, including a 20-year history of support for ultraviolet light detection and ranging (lidar) ground-truth measurements for the U.S. Air Force’s Defense Meteorological Satellite Program. Lidar solutions are used to calibrate on-orbit microwave sensors and validate these sensors’ measurements of atmospheric temperature and water content.
These older sensors have also been used to support California Air Quality Management programs, with measurements of the distributions and dispersal of particulate aerosols that represent potential air quality risks resulting from industrial activity and wildfires.
More recently, we have developed lidar sensors using UAV technology to support applications such as stack emissions of pollutants. In the Tracking Atmospheric Differential Absorption (TADA) program, a UAV-borne retroreflector can be arbitrarily positioned to close a long optical path (up to approximately 10 kilometers) with a tunable ground-based laser to detect the presence of gaseous pollutants or industrial waste products.
Optical gas imaging – plumes, leaks, and fugitive emissions – and the EPA’s new source performance standards
On August 18, 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed new rules for the “Oil and Natural Gas Sector: Emission Standards for New and Modified Sources,” amending the new source performance standards for the oil and natural gas source category by setting standards for both methane and volatile organic compounds for fugitive emissions from well sites and compressor stations.
The proposed rules call for routine optical gas imaging surveys to find fugitive emissions–and Vaeros brings a track record of performance and innovation in optical gas imagers to enable success.
Our hyperspectral Mako sensor can capture a 100-square-kilometer area in only five minutes, and identify and image a range of gasses–including methane. This enables oil and gas operators to meet the requirements for an entire production basin in a few minutes, instead of deploying time-consuming, portable handheld imagers–saving time, reducing costs, and providing greater coverage over the area of interest.
In addition to our Mako solution, Vaeros’ TADA lidar system is another candidate sensor for detection of gaseous fugitive emissions.
Material optimization and performance of solar photovoltaic cells
Nearly all satellites are equipped with a solar array–one or several panels that consist of solar cells that directly convert sunlight into electricity.
Facing the challenges of a harsh space environment and the limited real estate onboard a space system, space solar-cell manufacturers have provided semiconductor-based solar cells and solar panel products that are highly resistant to space radiation and generate more power from sunlight than competitive technologies for terrestrial use. Multijunction solar cells weigh less per unit of power than traditional silicon-based solar cells and provide satellite operators with reduced solar array size and launch costs.
Space-based solar cells have pushed the performance threshold to the highest efficiencies within the solar industry. Vaeros brings extensive expertise in high-efficiency solar cells–including valued research, outreach, and support to the space industry and global community of photovoltaics research, development, and manufacturing entities–to optimize the performance of next-generation solar-cell applications, whether terrestrial or space-based.
Vaeros’ support to solar-cell, solar-array, and power-system technologies covers a range of research, testing, and investigation approaches, including:
- Property characterization of existing and emerging photovoltaic materials
- Performance characterization and evaluations of new architectures and prototype devices
- Detailed diagnostics for physics-based investigations of performance anomalies and mechanisms of performance degradation and failure
- Environmental-effects testing and research
- Failure analysis and destructive physical analysis
- Novel solar-cell and solar-array design innovations and assessments
- Power management and distribution technology testing, simulation, and evaluation
Photonics technology and tools.
Our Photonics Technology Department is developing nondestructive diagnostic tools (i.e., optical spectroscopy techniques) that enable detailed experimental investigations of the intrinsic optical and electronic properties of photovoltaic materials, as well as evaluations of the performance of these materials in “building-block” test structures that simulate components of operational devices.
The results of these diagnostic probes are analyzed within physics-based models to identify and characterize the basic mechanisms that enable and limit photovoltaic energy conversion in practical devices. The results of the combined experiments and analysis represent “actionable feedback” to technology developers.
The Photonics Technology Department currently supports ongoing research and development in semiconductor photovoltaics at UCLA and the Rochester Institute of Technology, and THz (terahertz) optoelectronics at Wright State University. In a joint initiative with our Energy Technology Department, we will be investigating the basic mechanisms of radiation-induced performance degradation and the potential for engineered mitigations against such degradation, which is a primary limitation on space mission life and end-of-life mission capability.
Cell and battery technologies–advancing the state of technology through material science, testing, and evaluation.
Vaeros offers a team of world-class battery experts who can conduct independent evaluations of batteries and associated technologies, including:
- Cell and battery testing, modeling, and design
- Performance evaluation
- Failure analysis and destructive physical analysis
- Battery thermal management
- Cell and battery component testing and analysis
- Design, test, and evaluate battery charge management
Driving automotive innovation with car battery solutions.
Capturing, storing, and using electrical energy has always been a key issue in the design of spacecraft–and is an increasingly vital and ubiquitous topic in the automotive industry’s development of more efficient, capable, and cost-effective electric vehicles.
Consultants On Demand Automotive worked with teams from Vaeros to evaluate batteries that the Los Angeles-based company was considering for its new all-electric sedan. Our expertise and long history of innovation in this area led to significant finding that are driving solutions–and success–on the road.
Energy storage: using the remarkable properties of graphene to increase the performance of Lithium-Ion batteries
Distributed renewable energy will rely heavily on better and more efficient means of storing energy.
Rechargeable lithium-ion (Li-Ion) batteries dominate the consumer electronics market, and are increasingly used for electric vehicles and utility-scale renewable energy projects. Particularly for electric vehicle applications, there is a continued need for reducing battery weight while improving performance. One pathway to this is developing new nanomaterials and novel hybrid materials systems that will offer improved performance as electrodes.
Vaeros has developed a novel approach for stabilizing the use of silicon (Si) as the active material in Li-ion battery electrodes by coupling it to underlying layers of graphene. Detailed cycling characterization shows substantially improved stability for these Si-on-graphene electrodes and performance, far exceeding batteries with carbon electrodes. The processes used to achieve this are easily scalable and offer the opportunity to improve the capacity of Li-ion batteries by a factor of 10.
Winds of change: advanced materials for wind turbines.
At the beginning of 2015, the United States had an installed wind-energy capacity of approximately 65,879MW–a total that will continue to grow significantly, with wind energy expected to provide 20 percent of all U.S. Electrical energy by 2030.
With large offshore wind turbine farms, both proposed and under construction, it is important that the wind industry continue to optimize overall performance by selecting the most appropriate materials to:
- Reduce wear on the bearing and bearing cages–including corrosive pitting
- Improve thermal stability
- Institute quality control of lubricant inventory
Vaeros performs program support, research, and sample analysis to address issues related to the performance of moving mechanical assembly interfaces and analysis of surface physical and chemical properties of materials.
The smart grid: efficient storage improves resiliency and enables distributed energy
The electrical grid consists of generating stations that produce electrical power, high-voltage transmission lines that carry power from distant sources to demand centers, and distribution lines that connect individual customers.
This complex and ad hoc interconnected network was created over time to deliver electricity from suppliers to consumers–and is fragile, vulnerable to power outages, and lacks storage capabilities.
Utility-scale energy storage that can help smooth the peaks and valleys of renewable energy output will be an essential design requirement for a future grid network that relies on intermittent renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind. Moreover, distributed storage capabilities will mitigate the overall vulnerability of the grid.
Fortunately, a new generation of advanced batteries has emerged, promising safe and low-cost storage. Vaeros has world-class battery experts who can test, model, simulate, and design the next generation of utility-scale energy distribution–to transform an antiquated grid to one that is distributed and capable of integrating green and clean energy.
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