Power Electronics

Battery Pack Maker Wins Supplier Award

Micro Power, a supplier of portable power solutions for mission-critical equipment, has earned the Component Supplier Award from Orbital Sciences Corp. as part of the company’s launch vehicle systems Supplier Achievement Awards. Orbital's Launch Systems Group (LSG), which designs, develops, manufactures and operates rockets for space launch missions and missile defense applications, recognized Micro Power as one of three companies making outstanding contributions to Orbital-managed programs for military, civil government, commercial and international customers. The award recognizes Micro Power for its on-time delivery and focus on customer service.

Micro Power supplies NiCd battery packs for Orbital's launch vehicle systems such as the the Minotaur rocket. For this application, Micro Power’s custom-built battery packs are designed to meet extreme environmental conditions. Although the company populates the packs with commercially available cells, these cells must be pre-selected to ensure the cells going into the packs have nearly identical characteristics.

According to Jeff VanZwol, marketing manager at Micro Power, the selected cells must exhibit less than 1% variation in voltage levels and capacity. This selection process, which yields about 10% screened cells from a standard shipment of commercial cells, ensures optimum performance from the cells. The matching of cells also helps ensure battery pack safety, because an underperforming cell can lead to thermal runaway in other cells in the same pack.

Micro Power employs Maccor and Arbin test chambers in combination with its own custom-built test fixturing to extract cell parameters and screen cells. VanZwol notes that these test chambers are typically employed by cell manufacturers, but are not commonly used in battery pack manufacturing.

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