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Summary of Stirling Convertor Testing at NASA Glenn Research Center in Support of Stirling Radioisotope Power System DevelopmentThe NASA Glenn Research Center (GRC) has been testing 100 We class, free-piston Stirling convertors for potential use in Stirling Radioisotope Power Systems (RPS) for space science and exploration missions. Free-piston Stirling convertors are capable of achieving a 38% conversion efficiency, making Stirling attractive for meeting future power system needs in light of the shrinking U.S. plutonium fuel supply. Convertors currently on test include four Stirling Technology Demonstration Convertors (TDCs), manufactured by the Stirling Technology Company (STC), and six Advanced Stirling Convertors (ASCs), manufactured by Sunpower, Inc. Total hours of operation is greater than 514,000 hours (59 years). Several tests have been initiated to demonstrate the functionality of Stirling convertors for space applications, including: in-air extended operation, thermal vacuum extended operation. Other tests have also been conducted to characterize Stirling performance in anticipated mission scenarios. Data collected during testing has been used to support life and reliability estimates, drive design changes and improve quality, and plan for expected mission scenarios. This paper will provide a summary of convertors tested at NASA GRC and discuss lessons learned through extended testing.
Document ID
Document Type
Technical Memorandum (TM)
Schifer, Nicholas A.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH United States)
Oriti, Salvatore M.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH United States)
Date Acquired
September 9, 2014
Publication Date
November 1, 2013
Subject Category
Fluid Mechanics And Thermodynamics
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
Meeting: Nuclear and Emerging Technologies for Space
Location: Albuquerque, NM
Country: United States
Start Date: February 25, 2013
End Date: February 28, 2013
Sponsors: American Nuclear Society, Aerojet-General Corp.
Funding Number(s)
WBS: WBS 138494.
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
Energy Conversion Efficiency
Piston Engines
Stirling Cycle
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