A Maximum Power Tracker for Improved Thermophotovoltaic Power Generation

Award Information
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Branch: N/A
Contract: NNX10RA88P
Agency Tracking Number: 090032
Amount: $99,533.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: STTR
Awards Year: 2010
Solicitation Year: 2009
Solicitation Topic Code: T3.01
Solicitation Number: N/A
Small Business Information
Creare, Inc.
P.O. Box 71, Hanover, NH, 03755-0071
DUNS: 072021041
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Richard Kaszeta
 Principal Investigator
 (603) 640-2441
Business Contact
 James Barry
Title: President
Phone: (603) 640-2487
Email: contractsmgr@creare.com
Research Institution
 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
 Not Available
 77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA, 02139
 (617) 253-5694
 Domestic nonprofit research organization
Radioisotope Power Systems (RPS) are critical for future flagship exploration missions in space and on planetary surfaces. Small improvements in the RPS performance, weight, size, and/or reliability can have a dramatic effect on the scientific capability of the vehicle and the overall mission costs. Radioisotope Thermophotovoltaic (RTPV) energy converters are a particular type of RPS that directly converts the heat produced by a General Purpose Heat Source (GPHS) to electrical power using a specialized Photovoltaic (PV) cell. A key element in an RTPV system is the power conversion electronics system that efficiently converts the low-voltage current from each PV cell into useable, stable bus voltage for powering spacecraft systems despite issues such as non-uniform illumination, PV cell degradation, and decay of the GPHS source. In this project, Creare and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) propose to develop an advanced, multi-channel maximum power point tracking module (MPPT) that is optimized for RTPV systems. The converter will provide stable output voltage from a 16-cell PV array that, when coupled with advanced PV technology of the RTPV system, will provide high system efficiency. In Phase I, we will design a prototype power tracking module, which will be fully characterized for conversion efficiency. We will also assess the impact of this new MPPT on the overall RTPV system design and performance.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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