A solar heated AMTEC spacecraft power system Conference Paper uri icon


  • 1994 by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Inc. All rights reserved. We have developed a conceptual design for a new power system for spacecraft. The system converts solar energy to electricity with a static energy device known as AMTEC, Alkali Metal Thermal to Electric Conversion. Sunlight is collected by a solar concentrator and focused on a thermal receiver. The receiver converts sunlight to heat and passes the heat to the AMTEC cells, which provide the on orbit power needed to operate the spacecraft. The receiver also stores sufficient energy, in a phase change material, to provide heat during the eclipse portion of the orbit. We have shown that the mass of the conceptual design should be competitive with a solar photo-Voltaic (PV) system with AMTEC cell efficiencies of 20% and light weight solar receivers. The solar heated AMTEC system may have advantages over PV systems in orbits where radiation damage to solar cell; is a major concern. However, the pointing and tracking of the power system concentrator is more complicated than for solar panels.

published proceedings

  • Intersociety Energy Conversion Engineering Conference, 1994

author list (cited authors)

  • Paul Chivington, E., Hershey, T. L., & Schuller, M.

publication date

  • January 1994