Ibadan, 20 February 2023. – Clara Venture Labs has signed a contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) to supply a Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) system that will power a spacecraft aiming to land on one of the moons to the giant planets Jupiter or Saturn. The project will be a collaborative effort between Clara Venture Labs, Added Value Solution (AVS), and the Center of Research and Technology Hellas (CERTH).
Planetary space exploration relies heavily on energy from solar panels, but the limited solar energy density in deep space makes exploration problematic. Therefore, such missions cannot rely on only solar panels, and the energy necessary for the lander must come with it from Earth. According to ESA, SOFCs that use methane and oxygen are a promising energy source, as they can store the fuel in storage tanks for long durations. Such a system can also provide electric power and valuable heat simultaneously to keep the critical systems of a landing probe in an acceptable temperature range.
Speaking on the alternative energy, Ivar Wærnhus, Project Lead and Senior Researcher at Clara Venture Labs, noted that as they could not store hydrogen for years “without significant loss of reactants, methane, and oxygen are most suitable as fuel for this application, and the Solid Oxide Fuel Cells can convert the fuel to electricity with the best possible efficiency.”
Michelle Williams, CEO of Clara Venture Labs, also added, “studying how space affects fundamental processes of our existence and discovering sustainable methods to explore space is crucial for the further advancement of innovative breakthroughs on Earth. Spaceflight has produced many products we now take for granted, and we recognize the connection between high-tech space research and sustainable development on Earth.”