Advanced Stirling Convertor (ASC) Development for NASA RPS

Wayne A. Wong, Scott Wilson, Josh Collins
2014 12th International Energy Conversion Engineering Conference   unpublished
Sunpower's Advanced Stirling Convertor (ASC) initiated development under contract to the NASA Glenn Research Center (GRC) and after a series of successful demonstrations, the ASC began transitioning from a technology development project to flight development project. The ASC has very high power conversion efficiency making it attractive for future Radioisotope Power Systems (RPS) in order to make best use of the low plutonium-238 fuel inventory in the U.S. In recent years, the ASC became part
more » ... e ASC became part of the NASA-Department of Energy Advanced Stirling Radioisotope Generator (ASRG) Integrated Project. Sunpower held two parallel contracts to produce ASC convertors, one with the Department of Energy/Lockheed Martin to produce the ASC-F flight convertors, and one with NASA GRC for the production of ASC-E3 engineering units, the initial units of which served as production pathfinders. The integrated ASC technical team successfully overcame various technical challenges that led to the completion and delivery of the first two pairs of flight-like ASC-E3 by 2013. However, in late Fall 2013, the DOE initiated termination of the Lockheed Martin ASRG flight development contract driven primarily by budget constraints. NASA continues to recognize the importance of high efficiency ASC power conversion for RPS and continues investment in the technology including the continuation of ASC-E3 production at Sunpower and the assembly of the ASRG Engineering Unit #2. This paper provides a summary of ASC technical accomplishments, overview of tests at GRC, plans for continued ASC production at Sunpower, and status of Stirling technology development. Nomenclature ASC = Advanced Stirling Convertor ASRG = Advanced Stirling Radioisotope Generator DOE
doi:10.2514/6.2014-3962 fatcat:xzuxlgepzbclhcsvzg5bnhrtsu