When integrated into an efficient logistics-fueled thermal source, Alkali Metal Thermal to Electric Conversion (AMTEC) technology has a number of advantages for portable power generation applications. The AMTEC converters have no moving parts and have the potential to provide efficient, quiet, reliable and low-maintenance electric power. Thermal integration with a liquid-fueled combustion system provides fuel flexibility, low thermal signature, and ability to operate over a wide range of ambient conditions.
Arthur D. Little, Inc. (ADL) and Advanced Modular Power Systems, Inc. (AMPS) are developing a compact prototype, logistics-fueled, 500 W power system which integrates AMTEC technology with an efficient multi-fuel thermal energy source. This work is being supported by DARPA and the Army Research Office. AMTEC technology has demonstrated thermal to electric conversion efficiencies and power densities which make it an attractive option for meso-scale power generation. We are currently targeting 20% AMTEC thermal efficiency and 16% system efficiency (fuel to net power) in a system that weighs 9 kg. The heat source under development is a compact, recuperated combustion system capable of operating with most common liquid or gaseous fuels. The careful integration of the two systems with compact and efficient heat exchanging devices can lead to power systems that meet DARPA’s challenging power and weight goals.
The overall system design and the system tradeoff analyses are described together with a summary of the results of ongoing experimental work relating to: (1) critical enhancements to the AMTEC cell technology and testing of the annular cell configuration; and (2) performance of the multi-fuel micro-combustor and recuperator.