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ATEG Kilopower

Award Information
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Branch: N/A
Contract: 80NSSC20C0595
Agency Tracking Number: 205485
Amount: $123,502.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: Z1
Solicitation Number: SBIR_20_P1
Solicitation Year: 2020
Award Year: 2020
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2020-08-27
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2021-03-01
Small Business Information
1435 E University Dr Ste C-108
Tempe, AZ 85281-8473
United States
DUNS: 079226342
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Troy Howe
 (480) 250-6820
Business Contact
 Troy Howe
Phone: (480) 967-5660
Research Institution

We propose to investigate a new approach to achieving high performance thermoelectric generators (TEGs) used in nuclear power environments that preliminary calculations suggest may result in a gt;20% conversion efficiency. This innovation employs the existing reactor neutron radiation coupled with boron based thermoelectricnbsp;materials to significantly enhance their performance through effects that radiation is known to have on electrical conductivity of solids. The boron-10 material in a neutron field will react to create alpha particles and ionize the feet of the TEG to greatly improve material properties, resulting in an Advanced Thermoelectric Generator, or ATEG.
The major aspect of this innovation revolves around the tendency for ionizing radiation to excite the electrons in a material as it passes through. In doing so, the electrical conductivity of the material increases due tonbsp;Radiation Induced Conductivity (RIC). However, it is known that the thermal and Seebeck properties of the material remain relatively unchanged.nbsp;The figure of merit (ZT) for TEGs depends heavily on the electrical and thermal conductivity of the material, as well as the Seebeck coefficient. All three of these factors have been shown to improve when exposed to ionizing radiation. Based on effects seen from previous irradiation tests, the ZT of an ATEG can increase to the point where conversion efficiency can reach over 20%.
Previous work performed by Howe Industries has demonstrated the electrical conductivity change in boron nitride samples during tests at KSU. As boron based TEGs currently exist, adapting these for use with the Kilopower reactor will be the main focus of this project. Doing so will allow for an improved conversion efficiency, reliable power production, and minimal changes to the current designs. This project has the potential to not only increase the performance of the Kilopower reactor, but also decrease overall mass and design complications.nbsp;

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

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