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Permeability of Candidate Stirling Heater Head Materials MeasuredResearchers at the NASA Glenn Research Center are evaluating high-temperature materials for Stirling heater heads for second- and third-generation Stirling radioisotope power systems that would help to increase the system efficiency to 30 to 35 percent and the system specific power to 8 to 10+ W/kg. Ceramic materials could make it possible for the convertor hot-end temperature to be increased to 1050 to 1200 C, in comparison to the current 650 C with an Inconel 718 heater head. A hermetically sealed Stirling heater head must retain a constant internal pressure of nearly 400-psi helium (He) throughout its useful life (120,000 hr) at the design operating temperature. Therefore, He permeability was measured for eight potential materials and compared with the permeability of the current heater head material, Inconel 718. The eight materials included silicon nitride (Si3N4), silicon dioxide (SiO2), both sintered and chemical vapor deposited (CVD) silicon carbide (SiC), alumina (Al2O3), two types of melt-infiltrated (MI) SiC/SiC composites, and a carbon/SiC composite (C/SiC). Glenn submitted samples of each material to Porous Materials, Inc., Ithaca, New York, for permeability analysis. At room temperature and 30-psi He, four materials--Si3N4, Al2O3, SiO2, and sintered SiC--demonstrated lower permeability than Inconel 718. The CVD SiC and all the composite materials were significantly more permeable to He than the baseline material.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Glenn Research Center
Document Type
Freedman, Marc R.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Singh, Mrityunjay
(QSS Group, Inc. United States)
Date Acquired
September 7, 2013
Publication Date
June 1, 2005
Publication Information
Publication: Research and Technology 2004
Subject Category
Metals And Metallic Materials
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
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