Milliwatt thermoelectric generator for space applications

Allen, Daniel T.; Bass, John C.; Elsner, Norbert B.; Ghamaty, Saeid; Morris, Charles C.
January 2000
AIP Conference Proceedings;2000, Vol. 504 Issue 1, p1476
Academic Journal
A small thermoelectric generator is being developed for general use in space, and in particular for any of several proposed Mars atmospheric probes and surface landers that may be launched in the 2003 to 2006 time period. The design is based on using an existing 1 watt radioisotope heater unit as the generator heat source. That is the Light-Weight Radioisotope Heater Unit (RHU) which has already been used to provide heating alone on numerous spacecraft, including the 1997 Pathfinder/Sojourner Mars lander. Important technical issues that need to be addressed in the detailed design are the mechanical integrity of the overall power supply in consideration of the impact of landing on Mars and the subsequent performance of the thermal insulation around the heat source, which is critical to delivering the output power. The power supply is intended to meet a 20-year operational lifetime. Hi-Z is developing milliwatt modules that make use of micro fabrication techniques. For this generator modules are being fabricated that produce approximately 40 milliwatts at a T-hot of 250 °C and a T-cold of 25 °C. The module is composed of an 18×18 array of 0.38 mm (0.015[sup ″]) square×22.9 mm(0.900[sup ″]) long N and P elements. The modules use bismuth-telluride based alloys that are fine grain metallurgy prepared materials that can endure the demanding fabrication techniques. The paper describes the design status to date, and it presents the analytical approach, the testing program plan and a manufacturing schedule that is needed to meet the launch dates being considered. Electrical performance and life test data for the modules is also presented. © 2000 American Institute of Physics.


Related Articles

  • Milliwatt-Power Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (RTG) Based on Plutonium-238. Gusev, V.; Pustovalov, A.; Rybkin, N.; Anatychuk, L.; Demchuk, B.; Ludchak, I. // Journal of Electronic Materials;May2011, Vol. 40 Issue 5, p807 

    Results of design and experimental studies aimed at developing a milliwatt-power radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG) based on plutonium-238 for space power are considered and analyzed. Milliwatt-power RTGs based on plutonium-238 are completely self-contained electric power sources...

  • A Look Back at Assembly and Test of the New Horizons Radioisotope Power System. Harmon, B. Alan; Bohne, William A. // AIP Conference Proceedings;2007, Vol. 880 Issue 1, p339 

    The New Horizons mission to Pluto (PNH) was launched on January 19, 2006, from the Kennedy Space Center with one General Purpose Heat Source-Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (GPHS-RTG) providing electrical and thermal power for the spacecraft. The spacecraft is scheduled to swing by Jupiter...

  • Paris to Hektor: A Concept for a Mission to the Jovian Trojan Asteroids. Gold, Robert E.; McNutt Jr., Ralph L.; Napolillo, David H.; Schaefer, Edward D.; Tanzman, Jennifer R.; Fiehler, Douglas I.; Hartka, Theodore J.; Mehoke, Douglas S.; Ostdiek, Paul H.; Persons, David F.; Prockter, Louise M.; Vernon, Steven R. // AIP Conference Proceedings;2007, Vol. 880 Issue 1, p217 

    This paper presents an example of a new class of planetary exploration missions that is been enabled by the combination of the three technologies of advanced radioisotope power systems, electric propulsion, and expendable launch vehicles. These PARIS (Planetary Access with Radioisotope Ion-drive...

  • RTGs on Transit. Dassoulas, John; McNutt Jr., Ralph L. // AIP Conference Proceedings;2007, Vol. 880 Issue 1, p195 

    Transit, the US Navy’s Navigation Satellite System was conceived at the Applied Physics Laboratory in 1957 by observing the Doppler shift while tracking Sputnik I. As spacecraft development proceeded there was concern about the ability of batteries to maintain the hermetic seal over a...

  • Into the void. Aderin-Pocock, Maggie // New Statesman;12/21/2012, Vol. 141 Issue 5138, p38 

    The article looks at the Voyager 1 spacecraft, as of December 2012. It notes it was launched in 1977 and reports that it has reached the heliosphere, or outer edge of the solar system, and continues to send back information. Topics include technologies used by the spacecraft, including...

  • Brew your own electricity.  // Futurist;Jan/Feb95, Vol. 29 Issue 1, p5 

    Reports on the development of a thermoelectric generator at Glasgow University in Scotland that provides electricity anywhere without bulky gasoline-powered units. Transformation of thermal energy directly into electricity by a heated ceramic plate connected to a series of tiny silicon...

  • A local selection criterion for the compostion of graded thermoelectric generators. Schilz, J.; Helmers, L.; Müller, W. E.; Niino, M. // Journal of Applied Physics;1/15/1998, Vol. 83 Issue 2, p1150 

    Presents a study on a local selection criterion for the graded thermoelectric generators. Determination of graded thermoelectric generators; Characterization of equality of a thermoelectric material; Results obtained from the study.

  • ECG system harvests human heat.  // Engineer (00137758);2/8/2010, Vol. 295 Issue 7788, p7 

    No abstract available.

  • Powerstrap Technology Delivers Green Alternative for Oil, Gas & Industrial Companies.  // Power Electronics Technology Exclusive Insight;8/14/2012, p4 

    The article offers brief information on the PowerStrap thermoelectric generators from EverGen.


Read the Article


Sorry, but this item is not currently available from your library.

Try another library?
Sign out of this library

Other Topics