Title of Presentation: Advanced Stirling Radioisotope Generator Development

Primary (Corresponding) Author: Rebecca Richardson

Organization of Primary Author: US Department of Energy, Germantown, MD

Co-Authors: Jack Chan


Abstract: For more than forty years, Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators (RTGs) have provided safe, reliable electric power for NASA missions where solar power is not feasible.  NASA and the Department of Energy (DOE) are now developing the next generation of Radioisotope Power Systems (RPS), which will produce power more efficiently, reducing the Plutonium-238 fuel requirements and significantly increasing specific power.  The Advanced Stirling Radioisotope Generator (ASRG) will produce approximately 7 We/kg, and will use only 25% of the Pu-238 that would be required for a comparable RTG.  A flight-like engineering unit generator is currently being fabricated, scheduled for completion in December 2007.  The generator will undergo a series of performance and characterization tests, including subjection to dynamic and thermal vacuum environments, through April 2008, after which it will be placed on life test.  If the engineering unit tests are successful and the program proceeds to qualification, a flight generator could be available for mission use as early as 2012.  This paper describes the development progress to date, system requirements and performance predictions, and near-term plans for generator fabrication and testing.