SmartIR, a spin-out of the University of Manchester, is working on a graphene-based smart coating for satellites, to allow them to control thermal radiation on demand, depending on whether a satellite’s surface is Earth’s shadow or on the side closest to the Sun.

This graphene technology is said to be a far more optimal solution as it is lightweight, has a low power consumption, can respond quickly to temperature changes, operates across the infrared spectrum, and involves no moving parts.

SmartIR has recently joined the European Space Agency Business Incubation Centre United Kingdom (ESA BIC UK) at the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC) Daresbury Laboratory.

Professor Coskun Kocabas, SmartIR’s Scientific Director and co-founder, explained: “There is a clear need for a cost-effective solution that will enable satellites to regular their temperature automatically and in real-time. Applying graphene technology to space industry is a fantastic opportunity to take the capabilities of current thermal management systems to a new level, whilst significantly reducing satellite power consumption and cost. Our current primary focus is on the testing and validation of our patented technology to meet the requirements of the space industry. Being part of the ESA BIC UK, with access to funding, space facilities, business support and valuable collaboration opportunities, is incredibly important to us.”

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