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Overview of Heat Addition and Efficiency Predictions for an Advanced Stirling ConvertorThe U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company (LMSSC) have been developing the Advanced Stirling Radioisotope Generator (ASRG) for use as a power system for space science missions. This generator would use two high-efficiency Advanced Stirling Convertors (ASCs), developed by Sunpower Inc. and NASA Glenn Research Center (GRC). The ASCs convert thermal energy from a radioisotope heat source into electricity. As part of ground testing of these ASCs, different operating conditions are used to simulate expected mission conditions. These conditions require achieving a particular operating frequency, hot end and cold end temperatures, and specified electrical power output for a given net heat input. Microporous bulk insulation is used in the ground support test hardware to minimize the loss of thermal energy from the electric heat source to the environment. The insulation package is characterized before operation to predict how much heat will be absorbed by the convertor and how much will be lost to the environment during operation. In an effort to validate these predictions, numerous tasks have been performed, which provided a more accurate value for net heat input into the ASCs. This test and modeling effort included: (a) making thermophysical property measurements of test setup materials to provide inputs to the numerical models, (b) acquiring additional test data that was collected during convertor tests to provide numerical models with temperature profiles of the test setup via thermocouple and infrared measurements, (c) using multidimensional numerical models (computational fluid dynamics code) to predict net heat input of an operating convertor, and (d) using validation test hardware to provide direct comparison of numerical results and validate the multidimensional numerical models used to predict convertor net heat input. This effort produced high fidelity ASC net heat input predictions, which were successfully validated using specially designed test hardware enabling measurement of heat transferred through a simulated Stirling cycle. The overall effort and results are discussed.
Document ID
Document Type
Technical Memorandum (TM)
Wilson, Scott D.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Reid, Terry V.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Schifer, Nicholas A.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Briggs, Maxwell H.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Date Acquired
August 25, 2013
Publication Date
March 1, 2012
Subject Category
Spacecraft Propulsion And Power
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
9th International Energy Conversion Engineering Conference (IECEC)(San Diego, CA)
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
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