TITLE

Milliwatt thermoelectric generator for space applications

AUTHOR(S)
Allen, Daniel T.; Bass, John C.; Elsner, Norbert B.; Ghamaty, Saeid; Morris, Charles C.
PUB. DATE
January 2000
SOURCE
AIP Conference Proceedings;2000, Vol. 504 Issue 1, p1476
SOURCE TYPE
Academic Journal
DOC. TYPE
Article
ABSTRACT
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.
ACCESSION #
5985184

 

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