Thermionic power generator
Gyftopoulos, Elias P. Thermo Electron Corporation, Waltham, Massachusetts.
Hatsopoulos, George N. Thermo Electron Corporation, Waltham, Massachusetts.
Last reviewed:June 2020
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A device for converting heat into electricity through the use of thermionic emission and no working fluid other than electric charges. An elementary thermionic generator, or thermionic converter, consists of a hot metal surface (emitter) separated from a cooler electrode (collector) by an insulator seal (Fig. 1). The interelectrode gap is usually a fraction of a millimeter in width. The hermetic enclosure contains a small amount of an easily ionizable gas, such as cesium vapor maintained by a liquid-cesium reservoir. In some experimental devices, the enclosure may be evacuated.
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