Nuclear Energy Type Patents (Class 136/202)
  • Patent number: 10727390
    Abstract: A thermoelectric assembly includes first and second shunts spaced apart from one another in a through-plane direction. At least one of the first and second shunts having a shunt area in an in-plane direction. P-n pellets interconnect the first and second shunts electrically in series with one another in the in-plane direction. The p-n pellets have faces that engage the first and second shunts. At least one of the faces have a pellet area. The pellet area is substantially less than the shunt area.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: March 22, 2017
    Date of Patent: July 28, 2020
    Assignee: Gentherm Incorporated
    Inventor: Dmitri Kossakovski
  • Patent number: 10569909
    Abstract: An example spacecraft includes a first arm having a first end pivotably coupled to the spacecraft and a second end. The example spacecraft includes a first thruster rotatably coupled to the second end of the first arm. The first arm extends from the first pivot point along a first edge of an anti-nadir face of the spacecraft when the first arm is in a stowed position. The first arm is configured to pivot between the stowed position, a first extended position in which the first arm extends outward from the spacecraft relative to the first edge, and a second extended position in which the first arm extends along a third edge of the anti-nadir face and the first thruster is disposed outward of a second edge of the anti-nadir face opposite the first edge.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: March 30, 2016
    Date of Patent: February 25, 2020
    Assignee: THE BOEING COMPANY
    Inventor: Yiu-Hung Monte Ho
  • Patent number: 10340048
    Abstract: A passive safety system for removing decay heat from a nuclear power system may comprise a shroud structure and a heat generator that is within the shroud structure. A thermoelectric device may be disposed in thermal contact with the heat generator. The thermoelectric device is configured to generate a voltage based on a temperature difference between opposite parts of the thermoelectric device. A fan arrangement is disposed above the heat generator and in electrical connection with the thermoelectric device. The fan arrangement is configured to increase a coolant flow through the coolant passage to the outlet opening based on the voltage from the thermoelectric device.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: July 21, 2015
    Date of Patent: July 2, 2019
    Assignee: GE-Hitachi Nuclear Energy Americas LLC
    Inventors: Eric Paul Loewen, Seth Ryan Paul Strege, Nicholas Francis O'Neill, Levon Pierre Keusseyan
  • Patent number: 10291156
    Abstract: Systems and methods for power generation for an aircraft are provided. In one example embodiment, a power generation system for an aircraft includes a thermionic generator arranged to receive heat from at least one heat source. The thermionic generator is configured to generate electrical power for one or more aircraft systems based at least in part on the heat received from the at least one heat source. The power generation system further includes a thermoelectric generator arranged to receive waste heat from the thermionic generator. The thermoelectric generator is configured to generate electrical power for one or more aircraft systems based at least in part on the waste heat received from the thermionic generator.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: October 30, 2015
    Date of Patent: May 14, 2019
    Assignee: GE Aviation Systems LLC
    Inventor: John Xiaozhong Wang
  • Patent number: 10132560
    Abstract: The present invention relates to a method and a device (1) for cooling an arrangement (2) using a cold head (3), with a thermal cooling of the unit (2) to be cooled by means of the thermosiphon principle. At the same time, heat is conducted via a mechanical heat bridge (5), which provides a direct thermal connection from the cold head (3) to the unit (2) to be cooled.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: August 14, 2012
    Date of Patent: November 20, 2018
    Assignee: Siemens Aktiengesellschaft
    Inventor: Heinz Schmidt
  • Patent number: 10111282
    Abstract: This invention relates to a process for controlling a dental firing furnace in which a temperature in a firing chamber of the dental furnace is detected by means of a temperature sensor, and in which a heating element that is controlled by a control device controls the heating of the firing chamber of the dental firing furnace based on the measurement result of the temperature sensor. In this process a dental restoration part is received within the firing chamber of the dental furnace. The heating is controlled so that the dental restoration part reacts exothermically, emitting additional heat. The additional heat is detected by the temperature sensor which is pointed at the dental restoration part and the control device delivers at least one signal representing the additional heat, such as in the form of a display signal and/or control signal.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: February 14, 2014
    Date of Patent: October 23, 2018
    Assignee: Ivoclar Vivadent AG
    Inventors: Rudolf Jussel, Philipp Kettner
  • Patent number: 10006814
    Abstract: A temperature detecting device (101) includes: a detecting unit (11) which detects a temperature of a heat source (1); a power generation unit (12) which includes a thermoelectric conversion element (3) and is spaced from the detecting unit (11); a first heat transfer unit (41) that transfers heat or cold of the heat source (1) to the power generation unit (12); a radiator (13) which is remote from the power generation unit (12) so as to radiate heat or cold to outside; a second heat transfer unit (42) that receives heat or cold from the power generation unit (12) and that transfers the heat or cold to the radiating unit (13); and an output unit (14) that outputs a result of the measurement made by the temperature receiving element (2). The thermoelectric conversion element (3) generates electric power by way of a temperature difference between a surface (3a) and a surface (3b) and supplies electric power to the temperature receiving element (2) and the output unit (14).
    Type: Grant
    Filed: December 14, 2015
    Date of Patent: June 26, 2018
    Assignees: MURATA MANUFACTURING CO., LTD., DAIHATSU DIESEL MFG. CO., LTD.
    Inventors: Shuichi Funahashi, Takanori Nakamura, Masaru Mochizuki, Noboru Abe, Junya Chujo
  • Patent number: 10009101
    Abstract: Systems, methods, and apparatus for laser communications following an atmospheric event. In one or more embodiments, the disclosed method involves transmitting, by at least one laser on at least one first satellite, at least one first transmit signal. The method further involves receiving, by at least one detector on at least one first satellite, at least one first receive signal. In one or more embodiments, at least one first satellite is in super-geosynchronous earth orbit (S-GEO). In at least one embodiment, at least one first transmit signal and at least one first receive signal are laser signals. Further, the method involves adapting, by at least one first processor on at least one first satellite, at least one first transmit signal according to at least one atmospheric event.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: March 17, 2015
    Date of Patent: June 26, 2018
    Assignee: The Boeing Company
    Inventors: Matthew M. Everett, John P. Leuer, David A. Whelan, Stephen G. Lambert
  • Patent number: 9984781
    Abstract: A solid-state nuclear energy conversion system includes a crystalline insulator bombarded with radiation to create electron-hole pairs. A voltage source provides a potential bias across the crystalline insulator, causing electrons and holes to collect at opposing ends. A diode is incorporated in a circuit including the crystalline insulator, voltage source, and a load, inhibiting current flow from the voltage source to the load. Thus, a radiation-driven current flows to the load.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: July 29, 2016
    Date of Patent: May 29, 2018
    Assignee: The Curators of the University of Missouri
    Inventor: Mark A. Prelas
  • Patent number: 9892807
    Abstract: A method, system, and apparatus for the selective transfer of thermoelectrically generated electric power to operation systems of a nuclear reactor system including thermoelectrically converting nuclear reactor generated heat to electrical energy and selectively transferring the electrical energy to at least one operation system of the nuclear reactor system.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: September 29, 2009
    Date of Patent: February 13, 2018
    Assignee: TerraPower, LLC
    Inventors: Roderick A. Hyde, Muriel Y. Ishikawa, Nathan P. Myhrvold, Joshua C. Walter, Thomas Allan Weaver, Lowell L. Wood, Jr., Victoria Y. H. Wood
  • Patent number: 9443626
    Abstract: A concrete storage module (26) is adapted to slideably receive a cylindrical canister assembly (12) therein. Heat dissipation fins (62) and a tubular heat shield (96) are disposed within the module to help dissipate heat emitted from the nuclear fuel assemblies stored in the canister to air flowing through the module. The canister assembly (12) is composed of a basket assembly (70) constructed from multi-layer structural plates disposed in cross-cross or egg carton configuration. A single port tool (106) is provided for draining water from the canister (12) and replacing the drain water with make-up gas. The single port tool is mounted in the cover (100) of the canister and is in fluid flow communication with the interior of the canister.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: February 13, 2015
    Date of Patent: September 13, 2016
    Assignee: Areva Inc.
    Inventors: William Bracey, Thomas van Riper, Uwe Wolf, Jayant Rajabhau Bondre, Kamran Tavassoli, Raheel Haroon
  • Patent number: 9393921
    Abstract: Set forth herein are methods and systems for determining a rechargeable (i.e., secondary) battery's capability in real time, including how much power and energy can be discharged or charged, by compensating for the limitations of the standard battery model for cathode electron and ion transport restrictions in a solid-state battery. Set forth herein is also an equivalent circuit for each layer of a layered cathode (i.e., positive electrode) which is created using resistive, capacitive, and storage elements, including a state-of-charge (SOC) state variable and an SOC-dependent voltage source. In some embodiments, each layer is connected to adjoining layers using resistive elements to model ion and electron transport. In some embodiments, bulk ohmic resistance and ion exchange external to the electrode is represented using a Randles cell equivalent circuit.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: April 13, 2015
    Date of Patent: July 19, 2016
    Assignee: QuantumScape Corporation
    Inventors: Phillip John Weicker, Timothy M. Henigan
  • Patent number: 9281461
    Abstract: High performance thin film thermoelectric couples and methods of making the same are disclosed. Such couples allow fabrication of at least microwatt to watt-level power supply devices operating at voltages greater than one volt even when activated by only small temperature differences.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: December 2, 2004
    Date of Patent: March 8, 2016
    Assignee: Battelle Memorial Institute
    Inventors: Larry C. Olsen, John G. DeSteese, Peter M. Martin, John W. Johnston, Timothy J. Peters
  • Patent number: 9048388
    Abstract: A multi-layer thermoelectric module and a fabricating method thereof are provided. The module includes two thermoelectric element sets and a metal electrode set, in which the thermoelectric element sets are corresponding to different operating temperature ranges. Each thermoelectric element set includes a thermoelectric unit, an interfacial adhesion layer, a diffusion barrier layer and a high melting-point metal layer. In the method, the thermoelectric unit, the interfacial adhesion layer, and the diffusion barrier layer are sequentially formed on the thermoelectric unit. Then, two high melting-point metal layers are formed respectively on the electrode layers of the metal electrode set.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: July 8, 2013
    Date of Patent: June 2, 2015
    Assignee: CHINA STEEL CORPORATION
    Inventors: Jing-Yi Huang, Huey-Lin Hsieh, Tung-Han Chuang, Jenn-Dong Hwang, Chao-Chi Jain
  • Patent number: 9006955
    Abstract: A power converter comprises a nuclear radiation emitter having a first side and a second side, wherein the nuclear radiation emitter comprises a radiation-emitting radioisotope, a plurality of semiconductor substrates disposed over the first side of the nuclear radiation emitter, wherein each of the plurality of semiconductor substrates comprises a junction for converting nuclear radiation particles to electrical energy, and at least one high-density layer, wherein the high density layer has a density that is higher than a density of the semiconductor substrates, and wherein the high-density layer is disposed between two of the plurality of semiconductor substrates.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: November 1, 2011
    Date of Patent: April 14, 2015
    Assignee: Medtronic, Inc.
    Inventor: Geoffrey D. Batchelder
  • Patent number: 8987579
    Abstract: A power converter is provided and includes a heat collector surface, n- and p-legs formed of n- and p-type thermoelectric materials, respectively, which are each disposed in thermal communication with the heat collector surface, parallel electric busses electrically coupled to the n- and p-legs and a housing, which is electrically decoupled from the busses, to support the heat collector surface at a predefined distance from a heat pipe.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: May 5, 2011
    Date of Patent: March 24, 2015
    Assignee: Aerojet Rocketdyne of DE, Inc.
    Inventor: Cheng-Yi Lu
  • Patent number: 8987578
    Abstract: According to one embodiment, an energy conversion device comprises a nuclear battery, a light source coupled to the nuclear battery and operable to receive electric energy from the nuclear battery and radiate electromagnetic energy, and a photocell operable to receive the radiated electromagnetic energy and convert the received electromagnetic energy into electric energy. The nuclear battery comprises a radioactive substance and a collector operable to receive particles emitted by the radioactive substance.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: October 1, 2010
    Date of Patent: March 24, 2015
    Assignee: Raytheon Company
    Inventors: Gary A. Frazier, Timothy J. Imholt, Alexander F. St. Claire
  • Patent number: 8975503
    Abstract: An apparatus comprising a structure and an energy harvesting device. The structure is configured to have a first portion and a second. The energy harvesting device is formed as part of the structure. The energy harvesting device is configured to generate an electrical current when a difference in temperature occurs between the first portion and the second portion.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: May 18, 2011
    Date of Patent: March 10, 2015
    Assignee: The Boeing Company
    Inventors: Bradley James Mitchell, Ty A. Larsen, Trevor Milton Laib, Kevin Scott Callahan, Henry VanRensselaer Fletcher, III
  • Publication number: 20140116490
    Abstract: An electricity generation apparatus is disclosed. An exemplary apparatus includes a plasma container for containing a plasma sustained by radioactive decay. The plasma container has an inlet through which, in use of the apparatus, water can be introduced to the plasma container, and an outlet through which, in use of the apparatus, material can be expelled from the container. The exhausted material can include hydrogen and oxygen resulting from the dissociation of water molecules caused by interactions within the plasma. A separator can separate hydrogen from the material exhausted from the plasma container, which separator is coupled to the outlet, and a generator can generate electricity using the hydrogen as a fuel.
    Type: Application
    Filed: June 8, 2012
    Publication date: May 1, 2014
    Applicant: BAE SYSTEMS plc
    Inventor: Russell Alan Morgan
  • Publication number: 20130263597
    Abstract: A low energy nuclear thermoelectric system for a vehicle which provides a cost-effective and sustainable means of transportation for long operation range with zero emission using an onboard low energy nuclear reaction thermal generator. The present invention generally includes a thermal generator within a thermal enclosure case, an energy conversion system linked with the thermal generator, an energy storage system linked with the energy conversion system, a cooling system and a central control system. The thermal generator reacts nickel powder with hydrogen within a reactor chamber to produce heat. The heat is then transferred to the energy conversion system to be converted into electricity for storage in the energy storage system. The cooling system provides cooling for the various components of the present invention and the control system regulates its overall operation. The present invention may be utilized to power a vehicle in an efficient, sustainable and cost-effective manner.
    Type: Application
    Filed: March 22, 2013
    Publication date: October 10, 2013
    Inventor: Nicolas Chauvin
  • Patent number: 8492642
    Abstract: A system which can efficiently control the temperature of the battery module, and also can easily control the temperature in the intense environment by actively adapting the exterior environment. The system for controlling temperature of a secondary battery module includes a housing receiving a plurality of unit batteries. The housing has an inlet and an outlet. A heat transfer member is in contact with the unit batteries. The heat transfer member has a portion exposed to a heat transfer medium duct formed inside the housing, and a temperature controller is mounted in the heat transfer member to control temperature of the unit batteries.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: September 20, 2005
    Date of Patent: July 23, 2013
    Assignee: Samsung SDI Co., Ltd.
    Inventor: Tae-Yong Kim
  • Patent number: 8471139
    Abstract: A thermoelectric conversion module which has a P-type thermoelectric conversion material and an N-type thermoelectric conversion material electrically connected to each other. The P-type thermoelectric conversion material and the N-type thermoelectric conversion material are joined with insulating material particles (ceramic spherical particles) interposed therebetween, so as not to be electrically connected to each other.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: December 23, 2010
    Date of Patent: June 25, 2013
    Assignee: Murata Manufacturing Co., Ltd.
    Inventors: Takanori Nakamura, Shuji Matsumoto
  • Publication number: 20130061899
    Abstract: An apparatus, system and method provides electrical power in a subterranean well. A radioisotope thermoelectric generator may be positioned and installed in a downhole location in a wellbore. The location of the radioisotope thermoelectric generator may be within a completion string. A radioisotope thermoelectric generator comprises a core having a radioisotope for producing heat, and a thermocouple. The thermocouple comprises at least two different metals, and is positioned adjacent to the core. The radioisotope thermoelectric generator flows heat from the core to the thermocouple to produce electricity that may be stored in an energy storage device, or used to power a component. The produced electrical power may be employed to activate downhole sensors, valves, or wireless transmitters associated with the operation and production of an oil or gas well.
    Type: Application
    Filed: September 13, 2011
    Publication date: March 14, 2013
    Applicant: Chevron U.S.A. Inc.
    Inventors: Luis Phillipe Tosi, Krystian K. Maskos, Scott Wagstaff
  • Patent number: 8341950
    Abstract: Systems and methods for converting engine heat energy to electricity using a thermoelectric conversion device are provided herein. One example system may include an engine heat source, a thermoelectric conversion device for converting heat into electricity, and a heat pipe. The heat pipe is positioned so that when the temperature of the engine exhaust is too high, the excess heat may be transferred away from the thermoelectric conversion device to the heat sink via the heat pipe.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: July 18, 2008
    Date of Patent: January 1, 2013
    Assignee: Ford Global Technologies, LLC
    Inventors: David Karl Bidner, Robert Jay Natkin, Shane Elwart, Gopichandra Surnilla
  • Patent number: 8094771
    Abstract: The invention describes a product and a method for generating electrical power directly from nuclear power. More particularly, the invention describes the use of a liquid semiconductor as a means for efficiently converting nuclear energy, either nuclear fission and/or radiation energy, directly into electrical energy. Direct conversion of nuclear energy to electrical energy is achieved by placing nuclear material in close proximity to a liquid semiconductor. Nuclear energy emitted from the nuclear material, in the form of fission fragments or radiation, enters the liquid semiconductor and creates electron-hole pairs. By using an appropriate electrical circuit an electrical load is applied and electrical energy generated as a result of the creation of the electron-hole pairs.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: November 21, 2003
    Date of Patent: January 10, 2012
    Assignee: Global Technologies, Inc.
    Inventors: Francis Yu-Hei Tsang, Tristan Dieter Juergens, Yale Deon Harker, Kwan Sze Kwok, Nathan Newman, Scott Arden Ploger
  • Patent number: 8073097
    Abstract: The invention describes a product and a method for generating electrical power directly from nuclear power. More particularly, the invention describes the use of a liquid semiconductor as a means for efficiently converting nuclear energy, either nuclear fission and/or radiation energy, directly into electrical energy. Direct conversion of nuclear energy to electrical energy is achieved by placing nuclear material in close proximity to a liquid semiconductor. Nuclear energy emitted from the nuclear material, in the form of fission fragments or radiation, enters the liquid semiconductor and creates electron-hole pairs. By using an appropriate electrical circuit an electrical load is applied and electrical energy generated as a result of the creation of the electron-hole pairs.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: August 29, 2005
    Date of Patent: December 6, 2011
    Assignee: Global Technologies, Inc.
    Inventors: Francis Yu-Hei Tsang, Tristan Dieter Juergens, Yale Deon Harker, Kwan Sze Kwok, Nathan Newman, Scott Arden Ploger
  • Patent number: 8008574
    Abstract: A fluid tube routes a fluid adjacent to a source of heat to heat the fluid. The heated fluid is passed adjacent to cells which receive infrared radiation from the heated fluid. An anti-corrosion member is positioned on a portion of the tube adjacent to the cells. The anti-corrosion member is spaced from an outer periphery of the tube to provide a chamber between the portion of the tube and the anti-corrosion member.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: June 3, 2008
    Date of Patent: August 30, 2011
    Assignee: Hamilton Sundstrand Corporation
    Inventors: Andrew J. Zillmer, Bryan W. McEnerney
  • Patent number: 7723606
    Abstract: A thermoelectric generator (TEG) and a method of fabricating the TEG are described. The TEG is designed so that parasitic thermal resistance of air and height of legs of thermocouples forming a thermopile can be varied and optimized independently. The TEG includes a micromachined thermopile sandwiched in between a hot and a cold plate and at least one spacer in between the thermopile and the hot and/or cold plate. The TEG fabrication includes fabricating the thermopiles, a rim, and the cold plate.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: July 1, 2005
    Date of Patent: May 25, 2010
    Assignee: IMEC
    Inventors: Paolo Fiorini, Vladimir Leonov, Sherif Sedky, Chris Van Hoof, Kris Baert
  • Publication number: 20090293938
    Abstract: A fluid tube routes a fluid adjacent to a source of heat to heat the fluid. The heated fluid is passed adjacent to cells which receive infrared radiation from the heated fluid. An anti-corrosion member is positioned on a portion of the tube adjacent to the cells. The anti-corrosion member is spaced from an outer periphery of the tube to provide a chamber between the portion of the tube and the anti-corrosion member.
    Type: Application
    Filed: June 3, 2008
    Publication date: December 3, 2009
    Inventors: Andrew J. Zillmer, Bryan W. McEnerney
  • Patent number: 6372978
    Abstract: The present invention is a self-contained, solar powered heating and cooling system for a building. The collector has an insulated heating chamber, and a light transmissive cover and a thermostatically controlled vent. The chamber contains absorptive columns standing on the floor. An internal liquid conduit exposes the liquid to the heat within the chamber. The collector is connected to a remote thermal reservoir such that a liquid circuit and a separate gas circuit both circulate heated fluid to the reservoir. Heat can be stored in any of a liquid reservoir, thermal mass reservoir and gas reservoir. Wind powered generators and photovoltaic cells provide power for the system or other applications. The thermal reservoir has heat exchangers which deliver stored heat to the building or operate a heat operated refrigeration machine (e.g., a liquid absorption chiller). Additional self sustaining power sources may optionally be incorporated into the present invention.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: December 21, 2000
    Date of Patent: April 16, 2002
    Inventor: Carmine Cifaldi
  • Patent number: 6365822
    Abstract: A power system (10) is provided. System (10) generally comprises at least one generator module (100, 100′), and a heat source (200) encircling at least a portion of the generator module (100, 100′). Each generator module (100) includes at least one generator section (110) having a heat exchanger (120) extending axially therefrom. The heat source (200) is defined by a plurality of separable arcuate aeroshell segments (210, 210′) extending angularly about the heat exchanger section (120, 120′) of each generator module (100, 100′) to collectively describe a substantially cylindrical outer contour coaxially oriented thereabout. Each arcuate aeroshell segment (210, 210′) has formed therein at least one fuel compartment (212) extending axially inward from a front axial face (214) thereof in which a radioisotope fuel material (220) is stored and sealed therein by a covering member (230).
    Type: Grant
    Filed: November 24, 2000
    Date of Patent: April 2, 2002
    Assignee: Teledyne Energy Systems
    Inventors: Thaddeus J. Dobry, Jr., Gerald Walberg, David Moul
  • Patent number: 6329587
    Abstract: A power generator includes a current-generating cell having a layer of a fission source of heavy ions and alpha particles, and two semiconductor structures, one on each side of the layer of the fission source. The layer of the fission source is preferably Pu238 or Cf252. The semiconductor structure is preferably a silicon structure such as a silicon P-I-N diode. The cell includes two metal contact layers, each contacting a respective one of the semiconductor structures at a location remote from the layer of the fission source. A voltage source, such as a thermopile operating with heat produced from the current-generating cell, is in electrical communication with the two metal contact layers to apply a collection voltage across the current-generating cell. Two current collector leads are provided, with each current collector lead being in electrical communication with a respective one of the two metal contact layers.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: June 6, 2000
    Date of Patent: December 11, 2001
    Assignee: Hughes Electronics Corporation
    Inventor: Munir A. Shoga
  • Patent number: 6222112
    Abstract: A method and apparatus for controlling the temperature of a thermionic reactor over a wide range of operating power, including a thermionic reactor having a plurality of integral cesium reservoirs, a honeycomb material disposed about the reactor which has a plurality of separated cavities, a solid sheath disposed about the honeycomb material and having an opening therein communicating with the honeycomb material and cavities thereof, and a shell disposed about the sheath for creating a coolant annulus therewith so that the coolant in the annulus may fill the cavities and permit nucleate boiling during the operation of the reactor.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: August 23, 1999
    Date of Patent: April 24, 2001
    Assignee: The United States of America as represented by the United States Department of Energy
    Inventors: Benjamin J. Shaner, Joseph H. Wolf, Robert G. R. Johnson
  • Patent number: 6118204
    Abstract: The present invention is a power cell for directly converting ionizing radiation into electrical energy. The invented isotopic electric converter provides an electrical power source that includes an electronegative material layered in a semiconductor, to form a first region that has a high density of conduction electrons, and an electropositive material also layered in the semiconductor material to form a second region with a high density of holes. Said N-layers region and P-layers region are separated by a neutral zone of semiconductor material doped with a radioactive isotope, such as, but not limited to, tritium. No junction is formed between the N and P layers regions. Rather, the potential gradient across the neutral zone is provided by the difference between the work functions of the electronegative and electropositive electrodes. Electrical contacts are affixed to the respective regions of the first and second type conductivity which become the anode and cathode of the cell, respectively.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: February 1, 1999
    Date of Patent: September 12, 2000
    Inventor: Paul M. Brown
  • Patent number: 5859484
    Abstract: A radioisotope-powered semiconductor battery comprises a substrate of a crystalline semiconductor material, the material having at least one degree of confinement, and a radioactive power source comprising at least one radioactive element. The power source is positioned relative to the substrate to allow for impingement of emitted particles on the substrate. The semiconductor material may be electronically, structurally or chemically confined. The radioactive element is preferably impregnated within or immediately adjacent the semiconductor material.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: November 30, 1995
    Date of Patent: January 12, 1999
    Assignee: Ontario Hydro
    Inventors: Lennart Mannik, Harry E. Ruda, Samuel B. Peralta, Frank Y. Chu
  • Patent number: 5825839
    Abstract: A method and apparatus for converting radioactive energy into electrical energy is provided and includes a first radioisotope (24) emitting alpha particles and a second radioisotope (28) emitting beta particles. A first plate (16) is positioned proximate the first radioisotope (24) and is adapted for capturing the alpha particles wherein the first plate (16) is positively charged. A second plate (18) is positioned proximate the second radioisotope (28) and is insulated from the first plate (16). The second plate (18) is adapted for capturing the beta particles wherein the second plate (18) is negatively charged for establishing an electrical potential between the first plate (16) and the second plate (18). A housing accommodates the radioisotopes (24,28) and plates (16,18) and has a first contact (40) connected to the first plate (16) and a second contact (42) connected to the second plate (18). An electrical potential is generated between the two contacts (40,42).
    Type: Grant
    Filed: March 5, 1996
    Date of Patent: October 20, 1998
    Inventor: Paul T. Baskis
  • Patent number: 5712886
    Abstract: The detection device includes at least one thermocouple (10) arranged aligned with the bottom head of the vessel of the nuclear reactor, having a first branch (9) made of a first metallic material and at least one second branch (11) made of a second metallic material, different from the first material, welded to a point on the first branch constituting a hot junction of the thermocouple (10). The first branch (9) of the thermocouple has the form of an elongate hollow section. The device furthermore includes means for analyzing the measurements taken by the thermocouples (10).
    Type: Grant
    Filed: September 6, 1996
    Date of Patent: January 27, 1998
    Assignee: Atea, Societe Atlantique de Techniques Avancees
    Inventor: Jean Baldy
  • Patent number: 5610366
    Abstract: Transition metals (T) of Group VIII (Co, Rh and Ir) have been prepared as semiconductor alloys with Sb having the general formula TSb.sub.3. The skutterudite-type crystal lattice structure of these semiconductor alloys and their enhanced thermoelectric properties results in semiconductor materials which may be used in the fabrication of thermoelectric elements to substantially improve the efficiency of the resulting thermoelectric device. Semiconductor alloys having the desired skutterudite-type crystal lattice structure may be prepared in accordance with the present invention by using vertical gradient freeze techniques, liquid-solid phase sintering techniques, low temperature powder sintering and/or hot-pressing. Measurements of electrical and thermal transport properties of selected semiconductor materials prepared in accordance with the present invention, demonstrated high Hall mobilities (up to 8000 cm.sup.2.V.sup.-1.s.sup.-1), good Seebeck coefficients (up to 400 .mu.VK.sup.-1 between 300.degree. C.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: January 28, 1994
    Date of Patent: March 11, 1997
    Assignee: California Institute of Technology
    Inventors: Jean-Pierre Fleurial, Thierry F. Caillat, Alexander Borshchevsky
  • Patent number: 5492570
    Abstract: The apparatus is a combined Alkali Metal Thermal to Electric Converter (AMTEC) and a thermionic energy converter which are mated by the use of a common heat transfer device which can be a heat pipe, pumped fluid or a simple heat conduction path. By adjusting the heat output surface area of the thermionic converter and the heat input surface area of the AMTEC, the heat transfer device accomplishes not only the transfer of heat from the output of the thermionic converter to the input of the AMTEC, but also the transformation of the heat density to match the requirements of the AMTEC input. The electrical current through the combined devices is also matched by adjusting the heated surface area of the AMTEC.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: July 5, 1994
    Date of Patent: February 20, 1996
    Assignee: Thermacore, Inc.
    Inventors: Kevin Horner-Richardson, William G. Anderson
  • Patent number: 5441575
    Abstract: An alkali metal thermoelectric converter (AMTEC) having a plurality of cells structurally connected in series to form a septum dividing a plenum into two chambers, and electrically connected in series, is provided with porous metal anodes and porous metal cathodes in the cells. The cells may be planar or annular, and in either case a metal alkali vapor at a high temperature is provided to the plenum through one chamber on one side of the wall and returned to a vapor boiler after condensation at a chamber on the other side of the wall in the plenum. If the cells are annular, a heating core may be placed along the axis of the stacked cells. This arrangement of series-connected cells allows efficient generation of power at high voltage and low current.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: January 11, 1993
    Date of Patent: August 15, 1995
    Assignee: The United States of America as represented by the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Inventors: Mark L. Underwood, Roger M. Williams, Margaret A. Ryan, Barbara J. Nakamura, Dennis E. O'Connor
  • Patent number: 5440187
    Abstract: An electric battery comprises: a nuclear source of relatively high energy radiation fluence; a semiconductor junction characterized by a curve for this fluence relating minority carrier diffusion length and a damage constant and; an enclosure having a sufficiently low thermal impedance for dissipation of sufficient heat from the nuclear source to permit predetermined degradation of the minority carrier diffusion length initially and predetermined maintenance of the minority carrier diffusion length thereafter; the nuclear source being a radionuclide selected from the class consisting of alpha, gamma and beta emitters; and the curve being substantially logarithmic.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: November 1, 1993
    Date of Patent: August 8, 1995
    Inventors: Roger G. Little, Edward A. Burke
  • Patent number: 5266414
    Abstract: An impregnated thermionic cathode includes a porous matrix of sintered tungsten-alloy particles containing less than six percent iridium and/or other platinum-group metal. The pores of the matrix are impregnated with a temporary process impregnant such as molten copper or an organic monomer, and upon solidification is machined to a desired shape. Thereafter the temporary process impregnant is removed, and the matrix pores again infiltrated with a barium oxide such as molten barium aluminate, or other alkaline earth. A thin, iridium-rich surface activating layer, preferably of about 50% iridium, is then applied to the emitting surface. The diffusion of surface activating iridium is substantially blocked; superior emission and lifetime is provided; and the cathode is relatively low cost and easy to fabricate.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: March 18, 1988
    Date of Patent: November 30, 1993
    Assignee: Varian Associates, Inc.
    Inventors: Gerard A. Goeser, Michael C. Green
  • Patent number: 5260621
    Abstract: An electric battery comprises a semiconductor junction incorporating an inorganic crystalline compound of Group III and Group V elements of the Periodic Table characterized by a predetermined annealing temperature for defects therein; a nuclear source of relatively high energy radiation and concomitant heat, which radiation causes generation of such defects in the semiconductor junction; and a thermal impedance enclosure for the nuclear source and the semiconductor-junction for retaining therewithin a sufficient quantity of heat to maintain a functional relationship between the generation of defects and the predetermined annealing temperature during operation.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: March 18, 1991
    Date of Patent: November 9, 1993
    Assignee: Spire Corporation
    Inventors: Roger G. Little, Edward A. Burke
  • Patent number: 5246505
    Abstract: By using the helium generated by the alpha emissions of a thermoelectric generator during space travel for cooling, the thermal degradation of the thermoelectric generator can be slowed. Slowing degradation allows missions to be longer with little additional expense or payload.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: April 20, 1992
    Date of Patent: September 21, 1993
    Assignee: The United States of America as represented by the United States Department of Energy
    Inventor: Alfred L. Mowery, Jr.
  • Patent number: 5228922
    Abstract: A high voltage multitube alkali metal thermal electric convertor having a plurality of closely packed tubular cells disposed in a tube sheet in a vessel and electrically connected in series, the tube sheet dividing the vessel into a high pressure high temperature portion having a wick and heater disposed therein and a low pressure low temperature portion having a wick disposed in a condenser from which heat is removed; a pump for transferring liquid metal therebetween and a tab on a wick disposed in the tubular cell to remove excess liquid metal and prevent shorting between the cells.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: February 19, 1991
    Date of Patent: July 20, 1993
    Assignee: Westinghouse Electric Corp.
    Inventor: Robert K. Sievers
  • Patent number: 5122332
    Abstract: A radiation gradient is utilized to transform harmful radiant energy into safer, more useful forms, thus collecting, controlling and consuming the energies of radiant emissions and protecting the environment and living organisms from them. More specifically, there is disclosed a new process for shielding emitters of harmful radiation by establishing an electrical circuit, which process includes shielding the source of radiation while collecting the energy of relatively more radiation on an electrically conductive material and collecting the energy of relatively less radiation on other electrically conductive material, which may include a ground or external sink, thus establishing a difference in electrical potential, and transferring this potential difference, along with any potential difference from auxiliary devices, outside the shielded area, to resistors and/or variable other loads, which consume the voltage as it is created.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: November 28, 1989
    Date of Patent: June 16, 1992
    Inventor: Virginia Russell
  • Patent number: 5111099
    Abstract: There is provided an apparatus and method for converting radioactive energy into electrical energy, with the apparatus including an outer radioactive protective shell and a radioactive fuel source located within that shell. In a preferred embodiment, three mutually perpendicular magnetic fields are provided to separate alpha and beta particles emitted from the radioactive fuel source and to direct the alpha particles to a first predetermined region of the shell while directing the beta particles to a second predetermined region. An alpha collector is situated adjacent the first region to collect the alpha particles directed to that region, while a beta collector is situated within the second region to collect beta particles directed thereto. Structure is provided to permit removal of gaseous by-product from within the shell, and output leads are provided to utilize the collected alpha and beta particles to create electric current.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: March 2, 1990
    Date of Patent: May 5, 1992
    Assignee: Genesis Energy Systems, Inc.
    Inventor: Robert J. Smith
  • Patent number: 5089054
    Abstract: A flat plate alkali metal thermoelectric converter module having a plurality of generally flat plate cells grouped in stacks that are electrically connected in series within the stack, the cells being disposed to minimize the heat energy radiated to a condenser to provide a high efficiency module.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: November 28, 1990
    Date of Patent: February 18, 1992
    Assignee: Westinghouse Electric Corp.
    Inventor: Robert K. Sievers
  • Patent number: 5079469
    Abstract: A piezonuclear battery generates output power arising from the piezoelectric voltage produced from radioactive decay particles interacting with a piezoelectric medium. Radioactive particle energy may directly create an acoustic wave in the piezoelectric medium or a moderator may be used to generate collision particles for interacting with the medium. In one embodiment a radioactive material (.sup.252 Cf) with an output of about 1 microwatt produced a 12 nanowatt output (1.2% conversion efficiency) from a piezoelectric copolymer of vinylidene fluoride/trifluorethylene.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: October 15, 1990
    Date of Patent: January 7, 1992
    Assignee: The United State of America as represented by the United States Department of Energy
    Inventor: Wayne L. Bongianni
  • Patent number: 5066337
    Abstract: A thermal power transfer system using a phase change liquid gas fluid in a closed loop configuration has a heat exchanger member connected to a gas conduit for inputting thermal energy into the fluid. The pressure in the gas conduit is higher than a liquid conduit that is connected to a heat exchanger member for outputting thermal energy. A solid electrolyte member acts as a barrier between the gas conduit and the liquid conduit adjacent a solid electrolyte member. The solid electrolyte member has the capacity of transmitting ions of a fluid through the electrolyte member. The ions can be recombined with electrons with the assistance of a porous electrode. An electrical field is applied across the solid electrolyte member to force the ions of the fluid from a lower pressure liquid conduit to the higher pressure gas conduit.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: August 16, 1990
    Date of Patent: November 19, 1991
    Assignee: The United States of America as represented by the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Inventors: Pradeep Bhandari, Toshio Fujita