In space exploration missions where photovoltaic power generation is inadequate due to a lack of sunlight, and for missions with moderate power draw and increased mobility requirements, thermal-to-electric power generator systems using radioisotopes as heat sources provides NASA with a viable solution. Nanohmics Inc. proposes to develop a novel high efficiency thermionic thermal-to-electric converter (TTEC) using nanostructured emitters for integration with radioisotope thermoelectric generators application. The emitter material employed in the proposed TTEC device allows the device to be operated in harsh and high temperature environment.
Potential NASA Commercial Applications: The successful development of high efficiency thermionic power generators will improve energy conversion efficiency, specific power, and life time of RTGs power supply system, which will benefit to the W-MW power supply systems for NASA deep space exploration. They can be also integrated with nuclear power system to convert nuclear energy to electricity for space applications.