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Texas ECE to Develop Power System for Lunar and Martian Bases

Alex Hanson

Prof. Alex Hanson of Texas ECE has partnered with Apogee Semiconductor, a Dallas-based startup, on a NASA contract to develop high-power energy management for planned lunar and Martian bases.

“High-power transformers in terrestrial power systems are huge, heavy, and operate at high temperatures," said Prof. Alex Hanson. "They’re a terrible solution for a lunar base where you pay thousands of dollars per kilogram for transportation and there’s no atmosphere to cool the converter.”

Instead, the Power Electronics and Magnetics group at Texas ECE will pursue a highly modular solid-state solution, with controllers from Apogee that are immune to the high radiation exposure of space.

“It’s like stacking a thousand laptop chargers in parallel and series," said Hanson. "With the right control, this solution is relatively compact, easy to cool, highly repairable, and basically immune to individual module failures. Among other advantages, it can also be shipped a little at a time, assembled on site, and expanded when needed.”

Alex J. Hanson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin. His research interests include component- and system-level power electronics with emphasis on high-frequency magnetics and circuits.  He is also interested in leveraging power and energy in diverse applications like medicine, aerospace, etc.