The carrier lifetimes in InxGa1-xAs (InGaAs) and Hg1-xCdxTe (HgCdTe) ternary alloys for radiative and Auger recombination are calculated for temperature 300 K in the short wavelength range 1.5 less than (lambda) less than 3.7 micrometer. Due to photon recycling, an order of magnitude enhancements in the radiative lifetimes over those obtained from the standard van Roosbroeck and Shockley expression, has been assumed. This theoretical prediction has been confirmed by good agreement with experimental data for n-type In0.53Ga0.47As. The possible Auger recombination mechanisms (CHCC, CHLH and CHSH processes) in direct-gap semiconductors are investigated. In both n-type ternary alloys, the carrier lifetimes are similar, and competition between radiative and CHCC processes take place. In p-type materials the carrier lifetime are also comparable, however the most effective channels of Auger mechanisms are: CHSH process in InGaAs, and CHLH process in HgCdTe. Next, the performance of heterostructure p-on-n photovoltaic devices are considered. Theoretically predicted RoA values are compared with experimental data reported by other authors. In0.53Ga0.47As photodiodes have shown the device performance within a factor of 10 of theoretical limit. However, the performance of InGaAs photodiodes decreases rapidly at intermediate wavelengths due to mismatch-induced defects. HgCdTe photodiodes maintain high performance close to ultimate limit over a wider range of wavelengths. In this context technology of HgCdTe is considerably advanced since the same lattice parameter of this alloy over wide composition range.