SBIR-STTR Award

Fission Stirling Converter
Profile last edited on: 5/21/2019

Program
SBIR
Agency
NASA | GRC
Total Award Amount
$872,062
Award Phase
2
Principal Investigator
Mike Amato
Activity Indicator

Company Information

AMSC (AKA:American Superconductor Corporation)

114 East Main Street
Ayer, MA 01432
   (978) 842-3000
   N/A
   www.amsc.com
Multiple Locations:   
Congressional District:   03
County:   Middlesex

Phase I

Phase I year
2018
Phase I Amount
$123,872
This effort describes a Fission Stirling Convertor (FSC) that is ideally suited for use with fission-based Space Nuclear Power Systems (SNPS) and/or Nuclear Electric Propulsion (NEP) systems. FSC adapts the ongoing development of a 1-kW Free-Piston Stirling Engine (FPSE) (as used in this context “engine” and “convertor” are equivalent) for terrestrial applications to meet NASA needs for SNPS. This is effort is focused on Fission Surface Power Generation, and more specifically Space Power and Energy Storage.   FSC offers multifunctional versatility that can efficiently convert thermal energy from a wide variety of heat sources into useful distributed electric power. The focus here is on heat extraction from a fission power system using heat pipes, or potentially a pumped liquid metal loop.

Phase II

Phase II year
2019 (last award $$: 2019)
Phase II Amount
$748,190
This Phase II proposal for a Fission Stirling Convertor (FSC) that is ideally suited for use with fission-based Space Nuclear Power Systems (SNPS) and/or Nuclear Electric Propulsion (NEP) systems. All Phase I objectives were successfully achieved, laying the groundwork for a high-confidence and high-performance FSC prototype demonstration in Phase II. FSC is adapted from the prior ARPA-E GENSETS program development by AMSC of a 1-kW Free-Piston Stirling Engine (FPSE) (as used in this context ldquo;enginerdquo; and ldquo;convertorrdquo; are essentially equivalent) for terrestrial applications. Changes from the GENSETS design were primarily to meet specialized NASA needs for SNPS such as radiation tolerance, launch load robustness, higher ambient temperature environment, and interface with a condensing sodium heat source. This Phase II proposal is specifically addressed to SBIR Topic Z1.03 (Fission Surface Power Generation), and more specifically Technology Area TA3 (Space Power and Energy Storage) in the NASA SBIR/STTR 2018 Phase I Solicitation. The FSC Stirling convertor offers multifunctional versatility that can efficiently convert thermal energy from a wide variety of heat sources into useful distributed electric power. The focus here is on heat extraction from a fission power system using heat pipes, or potentially a pumped liquid metal loop. AMSC strategic partner Teledyne Energy Systems, Inc. (TESI) provided valuable future system integration perspective in Phase I and will specifically play a key role in the Phase II Technology Maturation task. Columbia Basin Consulting Group (CBCG) will provide support in Phase II for the Na pool boiler final design and will perform the Na vessel bake out and charging function.