Thermo-Acoustic Convertor for Space Power

Award Information
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Branch: N/A
Contract: NNC06CA65C
Agency Tracking Number: 053162
Amount: $69,735.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2006
Solicitation Year: 2005
Solicitation Topic Code: S2.04
Solicitation Number: N/A
Small Business Information
182 Mill Street, Athens, OH, 45701-2627
DUNS: 17163
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 James Wood
 Principal Investigator
 (740) 594-2221
 wood@sunpower.com
Business Contact
 Faith Knutsen
Title: Business Official
Phone: (740) 594-2221
Email: knutsen@sunpower.com
Research Institution
N/A
Abstract
Sunpower will introduce thermoacoustic Stirling heat engine (TASHE) technology into its existing Stirling convertor technology to eliminate the moving mechanical displacer. The displacer function will be performed by a thermal buffer tube and supporting thermoacoustic components containing no moving mechanical parts. Sunpower's linear alternator will be retained, except re-sized to accommodate the power of the TASHE. TASHE technology has evolved independently, spearheaded by efforts at Los Alamos National Laboratory and typically packages components (heat exchangers, thermal buffer tube) in a physically different layout than typical Stirling convertor technology. The innovation here is to recognize the similarity between components and repackage the thermoacoustic components as closely as possible to the proven layout used for Sunpower's engines. In this way it will be possible to make direct comparisons of size, weight and efficiency between thermoacoustic and displacer-type Stirling convertors. The research will help NASA assess the relative benefits of thermoacoustic and displacer-type Stirling convertors for space power applications and may lead to technology uniquely suited to some missions where displacer-type technology is unacceptable for whatever reason. In Phase 1 we will optimize the concentric TASHE design to provide as much electrical output as possible from a single GPHS (nominally 220 W of heat delivered to the convertor). This design will use the same temperature levels currently used for the ASC convertor of 850 C hot end and 90 C reject. This will provide a direct comparison of size, mass, and efficiency differences between TASHE and displacer type convertors designed for the same application and using the same temperature levels. During Phase 1 we will also scale up this basic TASHE to a higher output power (~400W), and higher temperature levels, to provide a conceptual design of a high efficiency TASHE suited for Venus exploration.

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

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