Skutterudite-Based Thermoelectric Technology for Integration into a Proposed Emmrtg for Space Power Applications

Tuesday, 3 October 2017: 11:10
Chesapeake F (Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center)


The overall objective of the Skutterudite Technology Maturation (STM) project at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is to advance JPL-developed skutterudite (SKD) technology to a point where it can be considered for use in a proposed enhanced Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (eMMRTG). The goal is to be prepared for potential flight unit development readiness by end of FY2018. Conversion efficiency values on the order of 9% have been demonstrated for SKD-based un-segmented couples when operating at a hot junction of 600C and a cold junction of 200C. This represents ~ a 25% improvement over the conversion efficiency of PbTe/TAGS MMRTG couples at beginning-of-life (BOL). The STM project entered its third year at the beginning of FY2016. This talk will highlight the material and device challenges associated with the maturation of this technology. During the first two years of the project, JPL and Teledyne Energy Systems Inc. (TESI) have collaborated to complete the initial technical technology transfer to TESI. Manufacturing capabilities for SKD TE materials have been established at TESI. TESI has also established the manufacturing capabilities for couples and module thermal insulation. First iteration SKD couples have been fabricated and tested at TESI. Key findings from this initial Phase of the technology maturation project will be summarized. TESI and JPL are currently developing a second iteration of couples and module thermal insulation, incorporating lessons learned from the development and testing of the first iteration of couples and insulation. Progress to date on the development of this second iteration of couples will be presented and discussed. The eMMRTG life performance prediction approach and development status will also be presented.