Slow Reversible and Quasi-Reversible Performance Changes in AMTEC Electrodes and Electrolytes
This paper reports several slow reversible and quasi-reversible processes which occur in the porous electrode/solid electrolyte combination at AMTEC operating temperatures. These processes help to elucidate the evolution of the electrode and electrolyte characteristics with time. They also demonstrate that the atomic constituents of the electrode/electrolyte engage in significant dynamic motion. We report the stability of the sodium beta“-alumina phase in low pressure sodium vapor at 1173K up to 3000 hours, and the decomposition of the sodium meta-aluminate (NaAlO2) phase present at about 1% in the BASE ceramic, which gives rise to transient local increases in the solid electrolyte resistivity due to local micro-cracking. We also report slow apparent morphological changes, possibly surface or grain boundary reconstruction, in TiN and RhW electrodes driven by changes in the local sodium activity.