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iLAuNCH announces two new projects with energy tech company entX

Manufacturing News

The Innovative Launch, Automation, Novel Materials, Communications and Hypersonics (iLAuNCH) Hub has announced new partnerships between University of South Australia, University of Southern Queensland and Adelaide-based energy technology company entX.

iLAuNCH announced two projects on Tuesday, with UniSA and entX (previously PhosEnergy) first focussing on the flow of thermal energy to ensure spacecraft can survive multiple nights in temperatures that can reach down to -180°C on the dark side of the lunar surface.

entX will prototype a Radioisotope Heater Unit-supported technology platform, to provide thermal management for multiple lunar night survival. The RHU will possess a half-life that is more sustainable, and ideal for shorter duration missions (one to five years) such as small payloads that will fly to the Moon on the emerging series of commercial landers.

It will use entX’s beta-emitting radioisotope, described as a safer and more environmentally friendly option, as an alternative to the plutonium typically used in RHUs.

The second project is with UniSQ, aiming to commercialise long-term power sources to spacecraft where solar energy cannot be relied upon.

entX will develop high-performance thermoelectric materials and components for advanced, high efficiency Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (RTG) technology, allowing for more reliable and consistent electrical power for deep space probes, contributing to scientific knowledge and advancing our understanding of thermoelectric performance.

“Embarking on an exciting journey towards lunar occupation in the upcoming decades, securing a reliable source of thermal energy solutions is paramount,” said entX General Manager Defence and Space, Scott Edwards.

“Robust RHUs and RTGs will play a pivotal role in ensuring the safety and effectiveness of lunar surface exploration, including the enigmatic dark side of the moon and the depths of lunar craters. Moreover, extending asset availability during lunar nights by leveraging advanced energy technologies creates a step change in the amounts of data collected, processed, and transmitted, leading to a maximized mission ROI.”

iLAuNCH was allocated federal funding worth $50 million over its four-year term in May last year, as part of the Trailblazer Universities initiative, and officially launched it July this year.

Its total value including contributions from universities and industry members is $180 million, which it expects to convert into $3.6 billion of economic activity by 2040.

Picture: supplied

Further reading

New iLAuNCH Hub announces leadership appointments

New $180 million space Trailblazer to hold official launch

PhosEnergy to develop nuclear space batteries


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