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Home Aerospace & Aeronautics Micromodules for lowmpower thermoelectric generators with radioisotope heat source for interplanetary space equipment

Micromodules for lowmpower thermoelectric generators with radioisotope heat source for interplanetary space equipment


The operating principle of thermoelectric micromodules is based on the use of thermoelectromotive forces arising in semiconductor thermocouples. A large number of legs in thermopiles (from hundreds to tens of thousands) allows to obtain the necessary electric voltages at relatively small temperatures differences (~10–100°).

Temperature modes of micromodules

  • Maximum operating temperature of hot side ––––––––– +230°С;
  • Admissible overheat of hot side ––––––––––––––––––– +250°С;
  • Maximum operating temperature of cold side –––––––– + 120°C;
  • Admissible overheat of cold side –––––––––––––––––– +150°С;
  • Minimum operating temperature of cold side –––––––– – 50°С.

Innovative Aspect and Main Advantages

Special attention is paid to micromodules reliability. It was provided by special technology preventing degradation of legs in manufacturing and highly reliable technologies of legs connection to antidiffusion layers. Particularly reliable modules of IR series utilize special redundancy systems improving considerably their service life. The use of redundancy provides operating capacity of modules even at complete degradation of some legs. At degradation of one leg the electric power generated by module is reduced only by 1–3 %. The probability of failure-free work of module with redundancy during 10 years is increased by two-five orders.

Areas of Application

Micromodules are intended for use in low-power thermo- electric generators of space or terrestrial purpose. Sources of heat can include radioactive isotopes (for example, Pu238), thermal flows in soils, heat released by organisms, including human, thermal flows through the walls of buildings and heat from various heated objects, waste heat from industrial and house-hold devices, microcatalytic sources using flameless combustion of combustible gases or liquids (petrol, kerosene) etc. Micromodules open up opportunities for wide application of low-power thermoelectric generators for power supply to space equipment.

The use of a large number of such generators on space objects radically improves the reliability of electric power sources, provides for their convenient location, serves as alternative to solar thermopiles on the orbits distant from the Sun. Terrestrial applications open up new opportunities of using thermoelectricity for power supply to medical equipment (heart pacemakers), heat meters, alarm and guard systems, portable electric devices, etc. Based on micromodules, compact long-action sources can be created having specific characteristics higher than those of chemical power sources (storage batteries, chemical batteries).

Fig. 1 A micromodule

Stage of Development

License agreements and cooperation for further development are sought.

Contact Details

Organization: Institute of Thermoelectricity
Contact person: Lavska Lyudmyla
Address: General Post-Office, Box 86, Chernivtsi, 58002, Ukraine
Теl: (3803722) 7 58 60
Fax: (3803722) 41917
E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


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