SBIR 95-1 SOLICITATION
PLASMA-SPRAYED THIN-FILM SELECTIVE EMITTER FOR THERMOPHOTOVOLTAIC POWER CONVERSION
Our innovation is a thin film, selective emitter for use in thermophotovoltaic (TPV) applications such as solar TPV (STPV). TPV systems couple photovoltaic (PV) cells, which absorb radiation at specific wavelengths to produce electricity, with a high temperature source that emits thermal radiation. A major impediment to achieving high conversion efficiency in these systems has been to create a low cost, highly durable emitter which is selectively tuned to match the narrow operating band of a PV cell. Most materials emit a broad spectrum of radiation, and only a portion of that is usable by the PV cell. Rare earth metal oxides have the useful characteristic of emitting thermal radiation in a narrow band, but a suitable thin film emitter of pure oxide has not been developed yet. Our innovative fabrication method is to produce rare earth oxide, selective emitter surfaces using plasma deposition. The technique offers the significant advantages of (1) mass production of films at the required thicknesses (50 to 150 mm) over large surface areas, and (2) allowing us to easily adjust the wavelength of the emitter surface to a particular thermal source temperature for maximum efficiency and power density. In Phase I of the project, we will target a concentrated STPV system under development by our commercial partner, McDonnell Douglas Aerospace. We expect to improve the demonstrated conversion efficiency from less than 15% to over 30%. Demonstrated conversion efficiency of 30% will surpass the most efficient solar to electric conversion system a concentrated Stirling dish system. The STPV system will also be more reliable, lighter, cheaper to produce and maintain, and would have no moving parts.
Potential Commercial Applications:
The proposed program addresses the vital need for improvements in energy conversion efficiencies and will advance the state of the art in selective emitter technology for a variety of TPV systems. The result will be a process to mass produce low cost, highly durable, highly efficient selective emitters for a range of TPV applications including mobile power generation, deep space power systems, hybrid EVs, cogeneration of heat and electricity, self powered furnaces, and concentrated solar TPV (STPV) systems. We will demonstrate the emitter in an STPV application which by itself, if proven viable, has an estimated annual market of $100 million per year over the next five years.
Name and Address of Offeror:
Etna Road, P.O. Box 71
Hanover, NH 03755
Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) &
Small Business Technology Transfer Program (STTR) Programs
Electronic Management System (EMS)
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
The SBIR/STTR EMS site is maintained by Steve
Hu, Hughes STX.
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Updated: Feb. 7, 1996