Development of segmented thermoelectric multicouple converter technology

Jean Pierre Fleurial*, Kenneth Johnson, Jack Mondt, Jeff Sakamoto, Jeff Snyder, Chen Kuo Huang, Richard Blair, Gerhard Stapfer, Thierry Caillat, Patrick Frye, William Determan, Ben Heshmatpour, Michael Brooks, Karen Tuttle

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

4 Scopus citations


The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, and Teledyne Energy Systems, Inc., have teamed together under JPL leadership to develop the next generation of advanced thermoelectric space reactor power conversion systems. The program goals are to develop the technologies needed to achieve a space nuclear power system specific mass goal of less than 30 kg/kW at the 100 kW power level with a greater than 15 year lifetime. The technologies required for such a power system include liquid metal cooled reactors with outlet temperatures ranging from 1125 K up to 1325 K, segmented thermoelectric multicouple converter (STMC) arrays which can achieve greater than 8 percent system efficiency and carbon-carbon heat pipe radiator panels to reduce the radiator subsystem areal density to a goal of 5 kg/m2. The STMC Program's development efforts focused on a highly compact conductively coupled modular thermoelectric converter assembly (TCA) design. STMC design efforts were based on a multicouple design similar to the SP-100 Program's design but using segmented thermoelectric (TE) legs rather than the single alloy silicon-germanium legs. Efforts have addressed in parallel the selection and optimization of the most promising high temperature thermoelectric materials, the development of the various STMC components and sub-assemblies, design, analysis, fabrication and assembly of subscale STMC devices as well as scale-up plans to the 100 kW-class power level. The performance of the selected high temperature TE materials and initial thermal, electrical and mechanical test results on several STMC demonstration devices are reported.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication2006 IEEE Aerospace Conference
StatePublished - 2006
Event2006 IEEE Aerospace Conference - Big Sky, MT, United States
Duration: Mar 4 2006Mar 11 2006

Publication series

NameIEEE Aerospace Conference Proceedings
ISSN (Print)1095-323X


Other2006 IEEE Aerospace Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityBig Sky, MT


  • Electric propulsion
  • Energy conversion
  • Nuclear power
  • Thermoelectric

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science


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