NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center awarded Youngstown State University's Chemical Engineering program a $393,000 grant to conduct a project surrounding the production of 3D printed batteries.

This is the second award from NASA for the YSU program in just over two years. The program previously received a grant to advance research aimed at creating 3D printed high-temperature sensors. Both programs were led by professor of materials science and engineering, Pedro Cortes.

The grant will help fund the development of sodium batteries as opposed to lithium and upgrade technology used for production. PhD student, Sina Bakhtar Chavari says sodium is much more plentiful in space compared to lithium and will be more readily available for future developments.

Bakhtar Chavari went on to say he and his team are looking to move away from the typical two-dimensional component printing process for the production of the battery itself typically used for lithium batteries and studying a more complex and intricate three-dimensional process to accommodate for a sodium built battery.

"Because we are currently operating with lithium battery technology, we need to update all areas of the production to function with sodium. As a result, we are working to make this update in the printing process using Digital Light Processing, or DLP for a higher resolution," Bakhtar Chavari said.

Working alongside Cortes and Bakhtar Chavari is YSU Rayen School of Engineering lecturer Bharat Yelamanchi, who is collaborating on the battery production, processing and running mechanical tests.

"This innovative project paves the way towards in-space/on-surface development of free-form energy storage devices for applications in Lunar/Martian habitats," Cortes said.