Technology development for a Stirling radioisotope power system

Thieme, Lanny G.; Qiu, Songgang; White, Maurice A.
January 2000
AIP Conference Proceedings;2000, Vol. 504 Issue 1, p1260
Academic Journal
NASA Glenn Research Center and the Department of Energy are developing a Stirling convertor for an advanced radioisotope power system to provide spacecraft on-board electric power for NASA deep space missions. NASA Glenn is addressing key technology issues through the use of two NASA Phase II SBIRs with Stirling Technology Company (STC) of Kennewick, WA. Under the first SBIR, STC demonstrated a synchronous connection of two thermodynamically independent free-piston Stirling convertors and a 40 to 50 fold reduction in vibrations compared to an unbalanced convertor. The second SBIR is for the development of an Adaptive Vibration Reduction System (AVRS) that will essentially eliminate vibrations over the mission lifetime, even in the unlikely event of a failed convertor. This paper presents the status and results for these two SBIR projects and also discusses a new NASA Glenn in-house project to provide supporting technology for the overall Stirling radioisotope power system development. Tasks for this new effort include convertor performance verification, controls development, heater head structural life assessment, magnet characterization and thermal aging tests, FEA analysis for a lightweight alternator concept, and demonstration of convertor operation under launch and orbit transfer load conditions. © 2000 American Institute of Physics.


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