Thermionic Energy Conversion in the Twenty-first Century: Advances and Opportunities for Space and Terrestrial Applications

David B. Go, John R. Haase, Jeffrey George, Jochen Mannhart, Robin Wanke, Alireza Nojeh, Robert Nemanich

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations

Abstract

Thermionic energy conversion (TEC) is the direct conversion of heat into electricity by the mechanism of thermionic emission, the spontaneous ejection of hot electrons from a surface. Although the physical mechanism has been known for over a century, it has yet to be consistently realized in a manner practical for large-scale deployment. This perspective article provides an assessment of the potential of TEC systems for space and terrestrial applications in the twenty-first century, overviewing recent advances in the field and identifying key research challenges. Recent developments as well as persisting research needs in materials, device design, fundamental understanding, and testing and validation are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number13
JournalFrontiers in Mechanical Engineering
Volume3
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 8 2017
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • electron emission
  • heat engine
  • thermal energy conversion
  • thermionic emission
  • thermionic energy conversion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering

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