A review of refractory materials for vapor-anode AMTEC cells

King, Jeffrey C.; El-Genk, M. S.
January 2000
AIP Conference Proceedings;2000, Vol. 504 Issue 1, p1391
Academic Journal
Recently, refractory alloys have been considered as structural materials for vapor-anode Alkali Metal Thermal-to-Electric Conversion (AMTEC) cells, for extended (7–15 years) space missions. This paper reviewed the existing database for refractory metals and alloys of potential use as structural materials for vapor-anode sodium AMTEC cells. In addition to requiring that the vapor pressure of the material be below 10[sup -9] torr (133 nPa) at a typical hot side temperature of 1200 K, other screening considerations were: (a) low thermal conductivity, low thermal radiation emissivity, and low linear thermal expansion coefficient; (b) low ductile-to-brittle transition temperature, high yield and rupture strengths and high strength-to-density ratio; and (c) good compatibility with the sodium AMTEC operating environment, including high corrosion resistance to sodium in both the liquid and vapor phases. Nb-1Zr (niobium-1% zirconium) alloy is recommended for the hot end structures of the cell. The niobium alloy C-103, which contains the oxygen gettering elements zirconium and hafnium as well as titanium, is recommended for the colder cell structure. This alloy is stronger and less thermally conductive than Nb-1Zr, and its use in the cell wall reduces parasitic heat losses by conduction to the condenser. The molybdenum alloy Mo-44.5Re (molybdenum-44.5% rhenium) is also recommended as a possible alternative for both structures if known problems with oxygen pick up and embrittlement of the niobium alloys proves to be intractable. © 2000 American Institute of Physics.


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