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Batteries contain metals with some structural rigidity themselves, and need encapsulation anyway. Could the batteries a spacecraft needs be used to build part of the physical structure, such as the arms holding up a solar panel on a com sat or a section of the hull protecting a crew in a spaceship? The point being to save some of the aluminium mass needed, rather than having the batteries being a box of payload that needs extra external physical support itself.

Do batteries need radiation protection? Do they cause bad secondary radiation? Li-ion batteries seem to contain iron massed metals like manganese and cobalt. Are there other risks like overheating, explosion, poisonous contamination. Has it even been done?

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    $\begingroup$ Very interesting idea. Reminds me of the alien ship in "The Mote in God's Eye" where every part served multiple functions. $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Oct 18 '16 at 17:24
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    $\begingroup$ Lithium batteries are capable of self-igniting if punctured, or occasionally just on their own (Samsung passim), so you'd want to protect them from micrometeorites. $\endgroup$ – pjc50 Oct 18 '16 at 17:28
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The biggest argument against this is thermal control. Batteries are one of the most thermally sensitive components of spacecraft, and normally require careful thermal design to make sure they stay in operating ranges. Even for terrestrial applications, like electric cars, this is a significant pack engineering constraint, second being safety.

Less importantly, spreading out battery cells will require more wiring mass to connect the cells with balancing taps and all, even further complicating connections if this is goes beyond hinged parts like solar arrays.

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