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Electrical Power from Thermal Energy Scavenging in High Temperature Environments

Award Information
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Branch: N/A
Contract: 80NSSC19C0013
Agency Tracking Number: 170041
Amount: $749,599.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: STTR
Solicitation Topic Code: T3
Solicitation Number: STTR_17_P2
Solicitation Year: 2017
Award Year: 2019
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2018-12-06
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2020-12-05
Small Business Information
20 New England Business Center, Andover, MA, 01810-1077
DUNS: 073800062
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Prakash Joshi
 (978) 689-0003
Business Contact
 Karen Trevette
Phone: (978) 738-8119
Research Institution
 Purdue University
 155 S. Grant Street
West Lafayette, IN, 47907-2114
 Federally funded R&D center (FFRDC)

Physical Sciences Inc. and Purdue University propose to develop a novel approach to scavenging heat from high intensity thermal environments encountered during space missions and converting this thermal power to electrical power at high efficiency.  Examples include extremely hot heat shields during vehicle entry into planetary atmospheres (Mars/Venus probes) and during high speed ascent through planetary atmospheres (Sample return from Mars/Venus), hot claddings of radioisotope thermoelectric generators used for powering outer planetary spacecraft and multi-decade planetary bases (Mars/Venus/Lunar), as well as combustors/nozzles of space and launch propulsion systems, specifically, nuclear propulsion systems of renewed interest. The technology is also applicable commercially to high temperature sources encountered in terrestrial systems, such as portable electrical power converters from machinery (engines, stoves) used by soldiers and civilians in outdoor environments,  In this STTR we will develop an integrated metal hydride (MH) system and spectrally-tuned thermophotovoltaic power converter (PC) system that can extract heat during periods of high thermal intensity and convert it to electricity at greater than 25 percent efficiency. The MH system provides the high temperature reservoir needed for PC operation.

In Phase I, for the PC system, we demonstrated feasibility of fabricating a critical emitter component in larger areas (5 cm x 5 cm), and for the metal hydride (MH) system, we experimentally characterized the MH decomposition reactions. In Phase II, we will produce and functionally characterize an integrated engineering prototype of the MH-PC heat scavenging electrical power generator system, fully tested in the laboratory and in simulated thermal-vacuum environments, together with an analytical model of the functional system.  We will identify candidate facilities (e.g., NASA/Stennis) for field testing of the system in Phase III.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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