This paper presents and analyzes the performance of high efficiency, high total energy utilization, static converters, which could be used in conjunction with small nuclear reactor plants in remote locations and in undersea applications, requiring little or no maintenance. The converters consist of a top cycle of Alkali Metal Thermal-to-Electric Conversion (AMTEC) units and PbTe thermoelectric (TE) bottom cycle. In addition to converting the reactor thermal power to electricity at 1150 K or less, at a thermodynamic efficiency in the low to mid thirties, the heat rejection from the TE bottom cycle could be used for space heating, industrial processing, or sea water desalination. The results indicated that for space heating applications, where the rejected thermal power from the TE bottom cycle is removed by natural convection of ambient air, a total utilization of the reactor thermal power of > 80% is possible. When operated at 1030 K, potassium AMTEC/TE converters are not only more efficient than the sodium AMTEC/TE converters but produce more electrical power. The present analysis showed that a single converter could be sized to produce up to 100 kWe and 70 kWe, for the Na-AMTEC/TE units when operating at 1150 K and the K-AMTEC/TE units when operating at 1030 K, respectively. Such modularity is an added advantage to the high-energy utilization of the present AMTEC/TE converters.

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