16 April 2016 Investigation of miniaturized radioisotope thermionic power generation for general use
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Abstract
Radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs) running off the radioisotope Pu238 are the current standard in deep space probe power supplies. While reliable, these generators are very inefficient, operating at only ~7% efficiency. As an alternative, more efficient radioisotope thermionic emission generators (RTIGs) are being explored. Like RTGs, current RTIGs concepts use exotic materials for the emitter, limiting applicability to space and other niche applications. The high demand for long-lasting mobile power sources would be satisfied if RTIGs could be produced inexpensively. This work focuses on exposing several common materials, such as Al, stainless steel, W, Si, and Cu, to elevated temperatures under vacuum to determine the efficiency of each material as inexpensive replacements for thermoelectric materials.
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Adam J. Duzik, Adam J. Duzik, Sang H. Choi, Sang H. Choi, "Investigation of miniaturized radioisotope thermionic power generation for general use", Proc. SPIE 9802, Nanosensors, Biosensors, and Info-Tech Sensors and Systems 2016, 98020C (16 April 2016); doi: 10.1117/12.2222039; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2222039
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