Space Charge LLC developed a proof of concept thermionic energy converter, that leverages efficiency boosting architecture and operational techniques not found in the prior art.
A thermionic wave generator (TWG) produces electrical power directly from heat, which drives a thermionic emission process (Edison emissions) using no moving parts or working fluid, which minimizes entropy generation in the system. As a stand-alone system it can replace internal combustion engines (ICEs) across a range of applications, from household power through transportation. Integrated into combined heat and power (CHP) systems it can transform power generation at a range of scales (e.g., from kW–MW). The TWG’s enhanced efficiency over prior thermionic systems derives from Space Charge’s work to-date on addressing thermal and electromagnetic loss mechanisms.
Space Charge LLC has successfully designed, engineered, and fabricated a working prototype that meets TRL 4 criteria. Proven theories and laws in electrostatics, electron emission, and thermodynamics drive our approach. The working prototype has validated our performance engineering model, providing confidence that our targeted engineering parameters needed for productization. The TWG approach differs substantially from other art by using an electrode system similar to an electron gun for focusing emitted thermions into a controlled wave, and a transducer for extracting energy from the wave. This design strategy permits greatly increased output levels at low fabrication costs.