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Title: Performance test results of a skutterudite-based unicouple with a metallic coating
Authors: Saber, Hamed H.
El-Genk, Mohamed S.
Caillat, Thierry
Keywords: radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs)
metallic coating
skutterudite-based unicouple
Issue Date: 13-Feb-2005
Publisher: Pasadena, CA : Jet Propulsion Laboratory, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 2005.
Citation: 22nd Symposium on Space Nuclear Power and Propulsion, Albuquerque, New Mexico, February 13-17, 2005.
Abstract: A performance test of a Skutterudite-based unicouple (MAY-04) with a metallic coating to suppress the sublimation of antimony from the legs near the hot junction is performed in vacuum (~ 9 x10-7 torr) for ~ 2,000 hours at hot and cold junction temperatures of 892.1 + 11.9 K and 316.1 + 5.5 K, respectively. The p-leg is made of CeFe3.5Co0.5Sb12 and the n-leg is made of CoSb3. Presented are the measured voltage-current characteristics, electrical power, open-circuit voltage, and Seebeck coefficients of the legs as functions of cumulative test time. Also presented is the estimate of the conversion efficiency, shortly (~ 96 hrs) after the start of test. To demonstrate the effectiveness of the metallic coating, the measurements for MAY-04 are compared with those of two uncoated unicouples of the same leg materials (MAR-03 and JUN-03), which had been tested earlier. The cross-sectional areas of the legs in MAY-04 are larger than those in MAR-03 and JUN-03, tested in argon cover gas at ~ 0.051-0.068 MPa for 450 and 1200 hours, respectively. The open circuit voltage, Voc (204 mV) of MAY-04 at Beginning-Of-Test (BOT) is almost the same as that of MAR-03, but higher than that of JUN-03 (~180 mV). Although the argon gas effectively decreased antimony loss from legs of MAR-03 and JUN-03, marked degradations in performance occurred with time in these tests. Conversely, the metallic coating in MAY-04 effectively reduced the performance degradation with cumulative test time. The estimated peak efficiency of MAY-04, shortly after BOT (10.65%) is only ~ 0.37 percentage point lower than the theoretical value, assuming zero side heat losses and zero contact resistance per leg. The peak power of MAY- 04 decreased by only ~12%, from its BOT value of ~1.6 We to ~ 1.4 We after ~ 2,000 of cumulative testing
Appears in Collections:JPL TRS 1992+

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