Institutional Projects


Novel Electride Material for Enhanced electrical propulSIon Solutions. (1-oct-2019 to 30 sep 2022)

Electrides are ionic compounds that are made of negative and positive ions, but all electrons serve as anions. The EU-funded NEMESIS project is developing cathode technology based on electrides that is compatible with all kinds of electric propulsion systems that require a neutralizer. The ceramic electride C12A7:e under development has superior properties to conventional ceramics employed in electric propulsion neutralizer technology, which are relevant for thermionic devices such as hollow cathodes or thermionic emitters. The C12A7:e- neutralizer technology boasts high reliability, compatibility with alternative propellants, as well as lower power consumption on satellites.

The 36 months NEMESIS project, leaded by ATD, requests a total of EC grant of 975.803,75 € for an experienced interdisciplinary consortium of 5 partners from 4 countries: 2 SMEs ATD (Spain, Coordinator), Exotrail (France), 2 universities Justus Liebig University Giessen (Germany), Universidas de Politecnica de Madrid (Spain), 1 research institute FOTEC (Austria).


Electrodynamic Tether Technology for Passive Consumable-less. (1-mar-2019 to 31-may-2022)

The Low Work-function Tether (LWT) is a long conductive tape coated with a material that enhances thermionic and photoelectric electron emissions. It enables spacecraft to de-orbit and/or re-boost without the need for consumables. It interacts passively with its environment (ambient plasma, magnetic field and solar radiation) to exchange momentum with the planet’s magnetosphere. E.T.PACK aims at developing a proof of concept for LWTs by breaking through and combining the current frontier of knowledge in three fields: plasma physics, low work function material science and space tethers. These will be integrated into a deorbit kit and a flight simulator for mission analysis. The kit aims to reach Technology Readiness Level 4 and will have two modes of operation: as a fully passive LWT and as a conventional electrodynamic tether equipped with an active hollow-cathode (backup mode). A new coating process for the electride, C12A7 ([Ca24Al28O64]4+(4e-)), will be developed, and used to manufacture a LWT demonstrator. The C12A7 and its extraordinary properties will be also applied to the hollow cathode of the kit, which will include a novel deployment mechanism specifically designed for LWT applications. Leading by Universidad Carlos III (Madrid, Spain), and the following partners: Fraunhofer Inst. (Ger), Universita Di Padova (Ita), Techniche Univ. Dresden (Ger), Sener Aerospacial (Esp) and Advanced Thermal Devices (Esp).

Project CDTI IDI-20151237 “Thermionics: Advanced Thermionic Emission Devices”.

Internal ATD R&D project. 2015 – 2016. Project

Project CDTI IDI-20171255 “SSTEC (Solid State Thermionic Emission Device)”.

Internal ATD R&D project. 2017 – 2018. Project