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Technical Paper

Model for Grain Growth in AMTEC Electrodes

The power produced by an AMTEC is dependent on the porosity of the electrode layers deposited on the surface of the BASE tubes. The elevated temperatures at which these power generators operate result in a slow growth or coalescence of the grains that comprise the electrode layers thereby reducing porosity and effective surface area. The lifetime of AMTEC electrodes is therefore related to the rate of grain growth of the electrode material. A preliminary model has been developed to determine the rate of grain growth over the operational lifetime of an AMTEC. This model examines the conditions for continuous growth as a function of the relative sizes, boundary and activation energies and mobilities of the grains. An assumption of strain-free growth has been made in determining the factors for normal growth. Experimental measurements for titanium nitride alloy electrodes are compared with this model. Predictions are made for performance lifetimes out to 10 years.