Solar thermal AMTEC space power systems

Michael Schuller, Paul E. Hausgen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


The Phillips Laboratory Space Power and Thermal Management Division (PL/VTP) is examining alternatives to photovoltaic/batten power systems for spacecraft. One such system uses high efficiency Alkali Metal Thermal to Electric Converters (AMTEC) as part of a solar thermal power system. PL/VTP is performing this work in conjunction with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Advanced Modular Power Systems, Rocketdyne, and ORION International Technologies. A trade study was performed by PL/VTP to determine the effect of AMTEC cell parameters and solar energy collection parameters on the performance of a solar thermal AMTEC power system. A rough cell level optimization was achieved to obtain a base set of cell inputs. Cell parameters were then varied to determine their individual effects on overall power system performance. The results of the trade study aid in identifying cell parameters which have the highest potential to increase system level performance. This provides guidance to direct the technical thrust of cell development in the most profitable way. Cell parameters which were found to affect system performance significantly included condenser emissivity, β” alumina solid electrolyte (BASE) tube thickness, porous electrode length, BASE tube diameter, and condenser length. Solar thermal collection parameters examined include mirror efficiency, mirror rim angle, and aperture hole diameter.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSpace Programs and Technologies Conference
PublisherAmerican Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Inc, AIAA
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)9781623565244
Publication statusPublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes
EventSpace Programs and Technologies Conference, 1995 - Reston, United States
Duration: 26 Sep 199528 Sep 1995


OtherSpace Programs and Technologies Conference, 1995
CountryUnited States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Aerospace Engineering

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    Schuller, M., & Hausgen, P. E. (1995). Solar thermal AMTEC space power systems. In Space Programs and Technologies Conference (pp. 1-8). American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Inc, AIAA.