The primary goal of the proposed project is to develop a thermal-to-electrical power conversion system that achieves 100-500 W of net electrical output, has >25% efficiency, and durability for life greater than 10 years in response to the SBIR S3.01 call from NASA. Due to the significant manufacturing and assembly cost reductions afforded by the TAPS architecture over traditional Free Piston Stirling (FPS) systems, the TAPS solution could be used as a direct replacement over traditional thermoelectric or other Stirling based systems in space missions. Furthermore, the TAPS technology enables architectures that are difficult, or impossible, with other systems. Specifically, TAPS can easily be utilized for a combined power and cooling duplex, and some preliminary designs have been created. Such systems would enable a sustained presence in extreme planetary environments such as the surface of Venus. This can be achieved using radioisotope heating for long term missions or chemical heating for shorter duration missions.
Nirvana Energy Systems is currently working to commercialize the NASA technology through an exclusive patent license granted for the Alpha-STREAM technology that the TAPS technology is partially based on. The NES TAPS technology could be easily adapted to home use where high efficiencies are possible and the unit would function as a micro-Combined Heating and Power system. In an installation such as this, the TAPS unit could be natural gas fed where to achieve overall high system efficiencies the unit would utilize excess heat to provide heated water for potable needs or for hydroponic heating. Excess electrical energy production would be sent to the grid. Similar to application for home power generation, other applications include commercial businesses, military uses (manned/unmanned vehicles and domesticated areas), and the transportation industry. In particular, these industries desire higher electrical outputs and the validity of the TAPS architecture afforded by this Phase I effort would offer strong evidence in the scale-ability of the technology. Moreover, the reverse cycle of the TAPS system can be used for cooling in many cases, including as a refrigerant free domestic cooling system.