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Center Independent Research & Development: JPL IRAD

Advanced Low Temperature Thermoelectric Materials for Cryogenic Power Generation (CryoTE)

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

Advanced Low Temperature Thermoelectric Materials for Cryogenic Power Generation

The current state of the art thermoelectric materials for low temperatures for the past 50 years have been alloys based upon Bi2Te3 with ZT of 1.2 at 300 K.  These heritage materials, although effective, are relatively inefficient at cryogenic Titan temperatures. In this project through a combination of theoretical simulations and cutting edge synthetic techniques, we will design and engineer advanced TE materials capable of efficient energy conversion in the 100 to 300 K temperature range.

In this work we will: 1) develop novel TE materials  with a factor of 2x or more improvement in the dimensionless TE figure of merit (ZT) over state-of-the-art materials in cryogenic environments (100K-300K range) ; and 2) validate the novel materials performance using proof-of-concept power generation TE devices to demonstrate their potential to achieve 15 to 25% conversion efficiency (up to 4x state-of-practice systems) when using low grade heat sources, Radioisotope Heater Unit (RHU)-based or single General Purpose Heat sources (GPHS), and rejecting heat at cryogenic temperatures.

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