Sukhum Physics Technology Institute

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Thermionic Conversion. Aspects of Collaboration.

Technology development of different electrothermal equipment element and unit forming based on multilayer ceramic-metal compositionwith the use of different materials.

Facilities: laboratories, equipmentsets, etc

The existing R&D and manufacturing facilities present an integrated technological complex which produces and researches various element and unit parameters based on ceramic-metal composition and consists of the following fields:

- Ceramic application on the metal substrate (by plasma and binder methods);

- Product heat treatment in vacuum and in air;

- Electron-beam and laser-beam welding;

- Gasostatic and hydrostatic pressing;

- Product dimensional chemical treatment;

- Mechanical treatment of refractory metals;

- Element and unit parameter research in vacuum and in alkali metal vapour.

Cooperation Possibilities:

The use of developed and improved equipment and technology for forming multilayer metal-ceramic composition, creating a series (various standard sizes) of cable glands and metal-ceramic units based on them, using relatively cheap materials (kovar and aluminium oxide).

Finished products:

Thermionic converter elements and units, a series of cable glands, a series of domestic electric heaters and air-heaters based on metal-ceramic elements within a wide power range

Since 1965 in SPhTI we have been conducting research of low-temperature plasma and thermionic technique of nuclear reactor thermal power conversion into electric power. Thermionic energy converters (TEC) operate in the range of high temperature 900-1700 K. This allows location of the converter not on the cooling circuit but inside the reactor itself. Consequently grow the output power and conversion efficiency (12-15%). As a result we have developed a technique of creating single-element and multiple-element electro-generating channels and thermionic reactor-converters which provided the basis for nuclear electro systems "Yenisey" and "Topaz" of space-based mode. Their output electric power was 6 kWt.

Units and prototypes of chain type multiple-element TEC

Multiple-element TEC units, made in SPhTI

Electric resistance heaters for laboratory tests of TEC

Multi-layer metal-ceramic insulators (TEC elements) operating at temperatures below 1900°C

The actuating fluid for TECs and electro-generating channels is cesium. We have developed a complex of cesium sources maintaining TEC performance in zero-gravity state. We have created and tested actuating fluid sources based on thermal and gas-control thermal pipes, layer compounds based on pyrolithic graphite and combined sources.

We have given much attention to the issue of space pollution with nuclear electric system wastes. We have designed and successfully fly-tested the actuating fluid absorbent unit, which bound cesium and other substance vapour into a solid-state die, preventing their emission into open space.

Actuating fluid absorbent unit (left), actuating fluid (cesium) source on a thermal pipe basis (centre), combined actuating fluid (cesium-barium) source on the basis of pyrolithic graphite layered compound (right)

The joint venture company "ERA-SPhTI" Ltd has the possibility to design and make products from high-force materials, as well as applying the technique of component part work surface strengthening by plasma spraying technique with the use of hard-metal powders followed by gasostatic pressing in argon medium within the temperature range of 1400 ÷ 17000С and pressure 250÷350 atm.

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